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Longhorns leave Clintwood in the dust, winning 67-41

The Longhorns were still riding the high of their narrow conference win over Sullivan East as they made a triumphant return to John Battle High School in Virginia Friday night to take on the Clintwood Green Wave. Having played two consecutive nights of extremely high-speed action, Johnson County was already geared up and ready to fight when they came out against a largely unsuspecting Clintwood. As a result the Green Wave failed to match the intensity of the Longhorns’ starting line up, quickly giving way to a three pointer from J.R. Speed followed by shots from Cody Bailie, Brian Dempsey, and Chase Phillips.
“After last night we had a great effort,” exclaimed Coach Austin Atwood. “We just came out of an overtime game last night and played Tuesday night in another high tempo game. Considering we came out in three games in one week, starting off the way we did I was proud of them. I thought they played hard.”
Clintwood managed to keep up only for the first four minutes of the game, actually taking a very short lived lead 9-10 only to be completely swept away by a combined effort from the Longhorns starting line that resulted in a 23-10 lead by the beginning of the second. The Green Wave struggled on through the half, almost reaching 20, but by then players like J.R. Speed and Dalton Timbs were nearly breaking double digits individually.
Johnson County tore down the court like a tornado, artfully maintaining control of the ball and almost uncannily predicting the actions and reactions of their fellow teammates. Having played so many tough games against seasoned, high caliber opponents, the match up against Clintwood was a good opportunity to see just how far the Longhorns have come. Even more importantly, as Atwood began pulling some of the veteran players back onto the bench, the younger faces on the roster got the opportunity to gain some very valuable experience.
“It was a good chance to see where they are,” Atwood said. “A lot of them aren’t where they need to be right now, as we could see. We’ve got to get some of the younger guys better, but it was a good effort.”
While the other five members of the team didn’t have quite as much luck scoring they still performed admirably in their own right. In particular, Sophomore Jose Guzman displayed a lot of speed and talent as point guard, a position he has been very diligently trying to master.
“I’ve got to step up,” Guzman said after the game. “In a couple of years I’ll be having to run the team and this was like a practice for me. It’s time for me to go in and learn more about the position and what I need to do. You have to work hard every day, get in the gym. You have to go hard at it all the time.”
Joining Guzman were freshmen Austin Houser and Spencer Stanley, as well as fellow sophomore and rising star Brandon Vannoy. With a substantial lead already to their credit, everyone on the bench got several minutes of game time to their credit, leading much of the game especially after the half. By the beginning of the third, Johnson County had held Clintwood to 17 while they climbed all the way to 45. Yet, after going into a big drive of their own Clintwood had brought that gap back under 20, starting off the fourth trailing 16 at 47-31.
This rapid turn around prompted Atwood to do some switching up yet again, and with players like Brian Dempsey rotating in Johnson County was able to take off once more, eventually reaching the upper 60s before the game closed out. By the end of the night eight out of 10 of Johnson County’s players had scored with four of those reaching double digits, a feat Atwood is hopeful can be repeated. “We’re capable of having five guys in double figures,” Atwood said. “When Cody Bailie starts playing a little better we really have a chance of getting five guys in double figures every night and that balanced score is really what we would like to see.”
Having played so many close calls, Johnson County’s smooth victory over Clintwood was a breath of fresh air, even if it is short lived. With so many big games still down the line the Longhorns can’t rest on their laurels, although they have earned it. The team seems more than willing to rise to the challenge and if this path of success can be maintained, Johnson County could be looking at one of their most competitive seasons in years.
Johnson County 67,
Clintwood 41
Brian Dempsey 17
J.R. Speed 14
Dalton Timbs 13
Chase Phillips 11
Cody Bailie 8
Jose Guzman 2
Austin Houser 2
Patrick South 2