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Season ends for Longhorns with loss to South Greene Rebels

In the last basketball game of the season the Johnson County Longhorns took on the South Greene Rebels for their only regional match up. Facing a senior-loaded team who had already carried their district this season, the Longhorns were hard pressed to keep up with a strong Rebel offense that included several excellent shooters. With only a few days to plan for the game, Coach Austin Atwood realized the challenge his team would face, but tried to implement a strategy to gain the upper hand. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans often go wrong.
“The things we talked about for three or four days, we just didn’t get done on the defensive end and that’s what really hurt us in the end,” said Atwood. “They came out a little bit tight and we couldn’t get a stop on them. Right off the bat Tim gets it to the left side and we knew not to let him get there. Number 34 gets it straight from the right side; we knew not to let him get it there. Then 42 gets an offensive board. I felt that if we were able to get eight or 10 points up they would have got a little tighter and would have had more trouble scoring. They sure had a shooter. Dusty jumped in to help. He’s been taught that for four years, but we talked about not leaving him even if we gave up a layup. Sure enough we left him; on instinct gave it to him, and he didn’t even come close to missing.” Johnson County kept the hope of a final victory in sight throughout the whole first half of the game, keeping the lead within five points for the majority of both periods. The Longhorns got the initial score of the night, but were quickly surpassed by the first of four three pointers in the first quarter alone. The Longhorns offense worked hard and pulled in another two shots to give them a one point lead 6-5, but was pushed behind yet again by a long range bucket. The last four minutes of the first was a back and forth game of catch up, with Johnson County leading only to be tied and eventually passed in the last minute and a half. Stalling out with 12 points on the board the Longhorns were dealt two more big three pointers that pushed South Greene to 18. A three pointer of their own, thanks to Ryan Mahala, bumped Johnson County to 15, but by the buzzer the Rebels had scored again, ending the period with a five-point lead. Foul trouble for both teams played a big factor in the second quarter, with Dusty Stout, Brian Dempsey, Chase Kleine, and Chase Phillips all picking up free throws. Within the first four minutes the Longhorns had pulled back within a one shot margin of evening the score at 21-23, but were thwarted once more by a South Greene three pointer. From that point the game began slipping again for Johnson County, holding at 23 points on the board while the Rebels climbed to 31. A few more free throws by Kleine and Stout brought the deficit back within six, but the end of the first half also signaled the end of Johnson County’s bid for the win.
Although South Greene’s defense allowed some early Longhorn buckets, the rebels came out in the third quarter prepared to handle the press, a change that Atwood credits with giving them final control of the game. “The second half their defense got a lot better and we started to get tired. The first half we started off with a pretty good offense but we just couldn’t defend. We were scoring, we were executing, we were getting buckets, but we weren’t getting any stops. We knew it was going to be like a fistfight under the boards and we did okay early, but as the game wore on and we got tired and they did a better job. They were just physically stronger than we were,” he said. For nearly half of the third quarter the Longhorns were unable to gain another basket, finally picking up two points at the four-minute mark. Proving to be the last gain of the period, Johnson County was stranded at 31 as the Rebels managed to push their lead farther and farther away, ending the third at 44. The fourth quarter began on an even worse note, keeping the Longhorns from scoring for another four-minute run despite three attempts at the free throw line by Chase Phillips, Dusty Stout, and Quentin Wright. Brian Dempsey finally picked up another bucket with just over three minutes left in the game, but by that point it was becoming more than obvious that Johnson County would not be able to take home a final win. At more than twenty points behind the Rebels, Coach Atwood began putting in players off of the bench, giving a last chance to gain some experience for his younger players.
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