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Longhorns gain experience in Orlando tournament

The Johnson County Longhorn basketball team had a very special holiday vacation last week, traveling to sunny Orlando Florida to compete in the St. Mary’s Tournament against an entirely different level of talent than what they have seen at home. While Johnson County might not have pulled out any huge victories, head Coach Austin Atwood was quick to point out that the real value was in what the trip could mean for the Longhorns later this season. “We had a good time,” Atwood said. “It was a good experience for the kids. It got a lot of time on the court for our guys who don’t usually get much. Patrick South got a lot of good, valuable experience. Chris Poteet, River Cazire, those guys got to play a lot of minutes. That’s the real impact, getting some of our other guys experience against really good teams. There was a lot of high pressure. J.R. Speed got a lot of chances at handling the ball against good quality Division 1 guards and did a pretty good job.”
Playing three games in all, the Longhorns started off against Holy Trinity Tigers from Melbourne, Florida. The first game was a challenge from the very beginning, with Holy Trinity flying past the Longhorns to put up 21 points to Johnson County’s 11 after the first quarter. J.R. Speed and Dalton Timbs landed most of the buckets for the Longhorns, with Timbs making at least one in every quarter, and three in the fourth, but there simply was no keeping up with the bigger, faster Tigers. Halftime saw a score of 25-37, and with little luck at stopping their advancement the game closed 47-70.
“We got it cut to five,” said Coach Atwood about the game, “but they had a Florida signer. We played some really good teams. Mark Price’s son, the guy who played with the Cavaliers, he was one of the guards on that team. Of course, Chase Phillips didn’t play at all. We didn’t have him down there and if we did it might have been a different story.”
The second game was against the Poinciana Eagles from Kissimmee, FL. This round was just as unfavorable as the first, with Poinciana making eight baskets in the first quarter and an additional 24 points in the second, giving them 40 before the first half. At the same time, the first quarter for the Longhorns was very slow, with the only points coming from a lay-up by Dalton Timbs, and a three-pointer by J.R. Speed. The second period was just as bad, this time with River Cazire under the net making one regular basket and a couple of free throws off a foul. In the end Johnson County came out with the same score as their first game, sitting at 47 to Poinciana’s 72.
The last game pitted the Longhorns against St. Joseph of New Haven, Florida, and proved to be the closest round of the three. For the first time in the tournament the Longhorns led the first period, putting up 15 points to St. Joseph’s 12. Timbs once again led the charge, landing a regular bucket and a three pointer, while getting some help from Brian Dempsey and Chris Poteet. Unfortunately, St. Joseph had pushed their way back into control just before the half at 26-28, and continued to climb in the third and fourth pull out at 12-point victory at 47-59.
With several points where the Longhorns could have taken back the lead, Coach Atwood was a little disappointed but was still very optimistic about the trip overall. “We should have won that game, Atwood said. “We were up a lot in that game, but we just turned it over late. We were tired, but we had a great trip. We went to the Virginia Tech-Rutgers bowl game and we got to go to the Orlando Magic and Toronto game as well.”

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