By Beth Cox
As the Longhorns stepped out on the Atwood court in their blue t-shirts commemorating the annual “Blue Out Day for Diabetes” awareness, one thing was clear; they came to show up.
The team is determined to show everyone they may not be the team of last year, but they have a lot of talent, heart, and soul to win, and that is precisely what they did Friday night against the Happy Valley Warriors.
The Longhorns got the lead early. Gavin Ward came off the bench and put away a couple of treys in the first quarter, along with two more trifectas in the second quarter for a total of thirteen for the night. Michael Oxentine was unstoppable underneath the basket, having put up ten points in the first half of the game. The Longhorn led the team with twenty points for the night, with his team up 23-18 going into halftime.
Defensively the Longhorns outplayed the Warriors in the first half. In the second quarter, the Warriors only had a three-pointer and five points from the charity stripe.
Going into the second half, Johnson County outplayed and outscored their neighboring conference rivals. The Warriors were tired and frustrated, which set the tone for a Longhorn takeover throughout the rest of the game.
The Longhorns controlled the momentum as point guard, Lucas Phillips moved the ball and contributed fifteen points from outside the perimeter. Phillips also managed to get the ball inside the paint for post shots by Oxentine and Darren Cunningham.
Phillips and Ethan Bower are known as the dynamic duo for making the plays happen for their team.
Bower put up eight points for the night. Clayton Cross added two as well as Cunningham. Trevor Gentry went home with three for the night.
“We have played a good game and are getting better as a team,” Phillips said. The senior guard added, “We are going to show everyone what we can do even though we are picked last in the conference. We are hungry for the wins and we will make it happen.”
Happy with the 63-46 win over Happy Valley, Coach Atwood proudly said, “Lucas played smart with many great assists. Michael hit the boards and got some good shots for us.”
Of course, Atwood knows there is work to be done.
“I tell them that win or lose, we work hard, and we will keep improving.”