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Longhorns hold off Happy Valley Warriors 68-58

By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
[email protected]

Happy Valley’s 5-0 lead in the early going evaporated like Frosty the Snowman in a span of two minutes. And they didn’t need a magical hat to make it happen either. The Longhorns ran here and there, inside the square for a 68-58 home win. The fun started after taking a 7-5 advantage.
“It’s been a tough week for these guys after losing the way we did at Sullivan North,” said Longhorns’ head coach Austin Atwood. “We came in at 6 am. the following morning and had a heart-to-heart practice. Tonight we played hard with very few turnovers plus we rebounded the fire out of it. It’s been a tough week filled with adversity. But I loved how we came out and responded to that.”
Atwood was making reference to Tuesday’s game at North where they led by 11 points in the fourth quarter but lost by two. But history wasn’t about to repeat itself on this night.

Chase Philips quickly erased the 5-0 deficit with a three-ball and a deuce to tie the game. Cody Bailie’s basket on their next possession put them in front to stay at 7-5.
The junior forward scored four points and grabbed three rebounds which led to six second-chance points. He ended the night with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
“They wanted to keep the pressure on us so we tried to keep moving,” said Bailie. “We got back to working hard and having fun in practice after the North loss. Tonight we played well on both ends. We didn’t put a lot of pressure on ourselves.”
Phillips had every reason to fill the pressure needing 11 points to top 1000 for his career. He passed that with flying colors by knocking down a trey with 6:25 remaining before the half.

“I knew how close I was,” said Phillips about the milestone. “I just wanted to go out there and get it plus have fun. The main thing is our team won and we played better overall. Everybody stepped up and found their role. The guys off our bench played well, especially our two freshmen.”
The Longhorns (1-2, 8-4) managed to build a 10-point cushion getting buckets by J.R. Speed and Nathan Arnold just before the half.
A steal and layup by Josh Hammonds at the buzzer kept the Warriors in the hunt at 36-28.
Warriors head coach Chuck Babb agreed his team had chances. But they were out-rebounded by 11 in the first half and 43-22 for the game.

“They massacred us on the board,” said Babb. “They had double-digit possessions where they took two shots or more and that can’t happen. We spent over an hour at practice on Wednesday emphasizing that because we knew it would be at a premium tonight. We can’t blame it on the fact that they were bigger than us. They just hustled and wanted it. But I do think that our kids played hard and made some big shots. It’s a testament to them getting out-rebounded as bad as we did and still be in the game.”
Babb was right in his assessment.
Phillips and Bailie collected 15 and 10 rebounds, three more than the team’s total. A pair of jumpers by Bud Icenhour would extend their advantage at a baker’s dozen with 5:28 remaining in the third.
“Coach told me to go out there and play loose,” said Icenhour. “We wanted to come in and keep up the pace. We didn’t want to lose anything when the starters went out and our bench went in. It’s always big when you knock off Happy Valley. This was a good win for us.”
The Longhorns pushed the margin up to 53-45 after Jose Guzman’s third three-ball in the game. The Warriors whittled it to eight during the fourth quarter but would get no closer.

Johnson County placed four players in double figures led by Phillips with 23. Bailie chipped in with 14 while Icenhour and Guzman tallied 12 apiece. Speed had five points, four assists and three steals after playing briefly over the past two weeks. Guzman said he and Phillips were the key.

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