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Longhorns place second in conference

By Beth Cox
Sports Writer

The Johnson County Middle School boys’ basketball team faced off with Unicoi Middle for the conference championship game Thursday night at Sullivan
Central Middle School in Kingsport, TN. 
The Longhorns have had a great season and placed second in the conference, with Unicoi remaining first. Coach Mark McCain felt confident his team could win the whole thing Thursday but knew it would be a tough battle, “we played them, and we knew what to expect. To their credit, they played hard all night.”
The gym was full of fans, but Longhorn supporters were loud and proud as they cheered on Johnson County. The Longhorn fans have been one of the strongest motivators for this team this year.
As the game began, there was one noticeable difference. Juan Mejia was not on the court playing due to sickness. McClain said, “Not having Juan in the game shook the team up a bit, but it wasn’t the reason we lost. However, when going against the toughest team in the conference, it’s nice to have everyone there.” 
In the first half of the game, the Longhorns simply did not play their best and got behind. The boys tried to ease past the Blue Devils throughout the night, but it just wasn’t the night for the Longhorns. 
Carter Atwood can nail those three points, but Unicoi was ready for him, so Atwood would only add three points for the night. Darren Chappel worked the ball inside, but the Blue Devils are big guys to go up against inside the paint. Chappel fought hard and ended up with nine points for his last game. Carson Jennings got some good shots and ended with 14 points.
 The biggest obstacle of the night was Unicoi’s solid outside shooter. The Longhorns finished strong and gave Johnson County many reasons to be proud.
The Longhorns played better in the second half, but it was just too late to try to regain momentum against Unicoi.
Naturally, McCain is heartbroken for his team but said it is not a reflection of what a year the Longhorns have had. “I am proud of their effort; they played hard.”
The final score was 33-49. Jack Csillag had four points for the night as well.