By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Certs and Dentyne Gum couldnt have prevented the bitter taste that Elizabethton experienced on Friday night inside of Treadway Gymnasium. Johnson County spoiled senior night and knocked the Cyclones out of first place in the Three Rivers Conference with a stunning 51-44 upset win.
It was an amazing feat for the Longhorns who trailed 16-4 in the first quarter. Head Coach Austin Atwood pointed out two key factors that got them back into the basketball game.
We didnt defend in the first quarter, said Atwood. We need to hold teams to 10 or less and we gave up 19. But we locked them down after that and limited them to one shot. I thought we made them take some ill-advised shots and we rebounded our rear ends off. Theyve got tough kids who play hard but I think our kids are just as tough. This was a big win for them.
The Cyclones (9-2, 16-9) opened the game getting baskets by Tyler Nichols and Bo Pless for a 4-0 lead. But deuces from Chase Phillips and Jose Guzman would tie the game at 4-4.
Elizabethton proceeded to score the next 12 points and ended the quarter on a 15-4 run.
They led 19-8 after one.
Things started to change in the second quarter after Betsy had went up by a bakers dozen.
Johnson Countys defense held the Cyclones to a mere five points and without a field goal for over five minutes. The Longhorns closed the period on an 8-0 run.
Phillips found Nathan Arnold open for a short jumper that got the deficit under double-digits. Caleb Throop capped off the run with a bucket in the final seconds to pull them within six at 24-18.
It was evident that all the momentum had shifted Johnson Countys way during the third stanza.
Guzman connected on a pair of trifectas to make it 28-26 at the 5:02 mark. Betsy pushed it back to four late in the quarter but Johnson County pulled within one on a long three from Bud Icenhour and his putback at the buzzer.
They trailed 37-36 going into the final frame.
But once again the Longhorns defense stepped up big. And so did Phillips during crunch time.
They held the Cyclones to only one field goal and seven points during the final eight minutes. Yet it was Phillips and Austin Houser who made the games biggest plays.
The senior sharpshooter nailed a pair of treys. The first one broke a 37-37 tie with 3:25 remaining. The second erased a one-point deficit and put Johnson County ahead 43-41 with 1:17 remaining.
They sagged back a bit when I hit the first shot, said Phillips. The second one felt good but I knew we had to get back and defend after I hit it. They scored on that possession but held them in check from there. It was a huge win for us.
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