Its not too often that the Johnson County Longhorns dominate a game from start to finish when coming up against a strong conference opponent, but thats exactly what happened last week when they faced off with the visiting Happy Valley Warriors. The Longhorns were on fire in the first quarter, jumping ahead by nine points before the warriors could even get on the scoreboard. Strong offensive performances from Chase Phillips, Brian Dempsey, and Dalton Timbs paved the way while an impressive showing on the defense kept Happy Valley right where Johnson County wanted them.
Even Coach Austin Atwood, who is normally hesitant to brag about his team, had to admit that the Longhorns were in top form. I usually dont talk that good about our teams but doggone what a first half, Atwood said. I really like coaching teams that dont have the one big stud you have to gear everything towards. I like it when everybody knows that they have to chip in and do their part. I told our guys we make it a lot harder than it needs to be, but when you play defense as good as we played tonight theres not much you can say.
By the end of the first quarter the Longhorns were ahead 14-5 and didnt slow down through the second. The Warriors started catching up with a few baskets in the last minute before the half, but by then Johnson County was already climbing into the low 20s. Brian Dempsey was one of the key shooters at this early stage in the game, fighting his way under the net and making some clean foul shots as well.
Im very satisfied with the way we played, Dempsey said. The first half we played aggressively on defense. We communicated well and we were able to keep the ball out of the middle, which helped us a lot. We came out the second half ready to go. Basically our press helped most of our turnovers. As a team we performed to a tee. Overall our aggression level and our determination was our key to winning this game. Happy Valley was very aggressive on boxing out, and the last time we played them they beat us on the boards, but we battled. Ryan Mahala did very well and Dalton Timbs did extremely well on boxing out and limiting them to one shot.
Johnson Countys offense slowed in the first half of the third, with only a couple of gains from Ryan Mahala and Chase Phillips. On defense, the team remained just as strong, and by the time the Longhorns began picking up shots again, the Warriors were still only at 17. Phillips remained the dominant shooter throughout the rest of the game, but did receive some help from other players like River Cazire who stepped up as well.
By the fourth quarter, Chase Phillips was knocking down three pointers and the lead nearly doubled at 43-24. The Warriors went on a short run late in the fourth where they made up some of the deficit, bringing the lead all the way back down to eight with a few long range shots of their own. Johnson County cleaned up their game once again in the last minute, going into a run that frustrated the Warriors into several fouls. By the end of the night, Happy Valley was back down by more than ten, going home with a 53-37 loss with a last bucket from Morgan Eggers.
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