By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Johnson Countys Chase Phillips, Jose Guzman, Brandon Vannoy and Cody Bailie were in fine tune on Friday night inside of a jam-packed Ray Shoun Gymnasium. The quartet played string music to a convincing 77-49 win over Unaka and they did so without leading performer J.R. Speed who sat out with a bruised arm.
The Longhorns (3-1) shot 55 percent for the game hitting 32 of 58 shots from the field.
Ironically it was their defensive pressure that led to their impressive scoring output. They forced the Rangers into 16 first-half turnovers and led by a bakers dozen at intermission.
Head coach Austin Atwood was pleased with their performance.
It was a battle in the first quarter, said Atwood. Coach Aaron Dugger had his kids ready to play and they rebounded the crap out of it. Once we were able to generate some points off our defense, we pushed the lead out somewhat. We had a couple of runs that helped us build it past double digits. I thought we passed the basketball well and had some good on-ball pressure. Jose did a heck of a job defending out front. That made it difficult for them to get into their offense.
The Longhorns fell behind early but led 16-9 after one. Phillips had five in the quarter including a three.
Were trying to defend our District title by filling the roles that Brian Dempsey and Dalton Timbs played on our team last year, said Phillips. Those were two excellent players. Guzman, Houser and Vannoy are really playing well plus our freshmen are meshing in good. Were finally about to get the football out of us. Everybody is contributing.
The play of Guzman and Vannoy was a prime example.
Guzman had a pair of three-point plays in the second quarter and Vannoy collected three steals that led to six points. The Horns led 35-22 at the break.
We started building the lead because of Jose and his ball pressure defense out front, said Vannoy. That got our offense going. Theres always room for improvement, but Im pleased with the way we played. Nobody was watching the scoreboard. We just took care of business.
They kept piling on the points during the third quarter. Seven by Phillips including a three and a half dozen more from Guzman stretched their advantage to 23 with 2:47 remaining in period.
I had to step up my game and produce tonight, added Guzman. With J.R. out our scoring goes down. It was important to contribute.
He ended the night 14 points, five steals and four assists. Vannoy provided five steals, and 13 points.
Bailie felt like that was the key to their win.
Jose and Brandon made it hard on them out front, added Bailie. They had a lot of steals. Our game plan was to beat them up and down the floor because of our athleticism. We wanted to try and get them running to make them tired, especially their big center. We kept playing hard and applying ball pressure. We did what we had to do.
To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.