JC’s Ethan Bower (11) lays the ball up for two in the Longhorns 54-53 loss. Bower’s last minute steal and basket gave the Horns the win, before the officials quickly wiped out the score, ruling time had expired. Photo by Joey Icenhour
Johnson County 53, Sullivan North 54
By Tim Chambers
A small crowd inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium got to witnesses an old fashioned slobberknocker that wasn’t decided until the final horn, and the majority of them left unhappy. Johnson County trailed Sullivan North 53-46 with 1:21 remaining in the game but rallied frantically to almost pull out the win.
Ethan Bower and Clayton Cross’s free throws allowed the Horns to get within five in the final minute. Johnson County elected to foul North and they couldn’t convert at the line giving the Horns a chance to get closer. Bower cut the lead to 54-53 with 2.2 seconds remaining by hitting an acrobatic from half court that appeared to wake up the small crowd.
Needing to stop the clock, the Horns called timeout but didn’t have any remaining, thus getting a technical foul, but it was the right call. North went to the line and missed both free throws but still had the ball on a side out near half-court. They inbounded the ball, and Bower picked off the pass and drove to the lane. It was three when all down below broke loose. Bower launched a shot high off the backboard that fell through as many Longhorn fans thought they had won the game.
The officials immediately wiped off the shot, saying the Horn had already sounded, which this scribe thought was the correct call. Some thought a foul should have been called, but Johnson County’s seventh loss resulted from a combined total of 17 points. Head coach Austin Atwood had this to say about the play.
“I thought the official made the right call,” said Atwood. “He might have got bumped, but what cost us the game was we got beat on the offensive board.”
In the third quarter, North scored 10 of their 14 points on second-chance baskets. That allowed North to get within one at 35-34 heading into the final period. Bryant Herron’s bucket at the buzzer appeared to swing the momentum the Golden Raider’s way. Johnson County was able to go up by four in the fourth quarter but couldn’t stave off the hot-shooting Golden Raiders.
C.T. Marks worked the offensive glass for 13 points to lead North. Isaiah Pruitt chipped in with 12. Jackson Earnhardt led the Longhorns with 19, several of them clutch baskets. Clayton Cross added 16 points and four steals. Zack Parsons accounted for nine. It was the second one-point loss of the season for Johnson County against North. They lost 49-48 on the road back in mid-December.
“We need to get a win and get on a streak,” said Atwood. “We want to try and be playing well at tournament time. We’ve lost a lot of close games that we could have won. We need to find a way to pull one out and get a win. Credit our kids for playing hard and not quitting at the end.”