JC’s Ethan Bower (11) elevates for a jumper in the Longhorns 55-52 loss to Sullivan South. Bower ended the contest with 11 points, five assists and three steals. Photo by Joey Icenhour
Sullivan South 55, Johnson County 52
By Tim Chambers
KINGSPORT —It was there for the taking, but the Longhorns couldn’t lasso in a victory from Sullivan South in the final seconds. Had it not been for the Rebels’ poor free-throw shooting, a game-winning shot opportunity would not have been possible. South made only 2 of 8 from the line in the last minute, leaving the door open for the Horns. The boys, however, couldn’t capitalize due to a poor shooting night ending their season with a 55-52 loss and missing out on a chance to make the Regional 1AA Tournament.
“I felt like if we could have won that we might have a shot of getting into the final of the tournament,” said Head Coach Austin Atwood. “South lost to Elizabethton in double overtime down there, and we always play them well and nearly beat them up here. We missed out on a good opportunity. But I felt like it hurt us having to playing Happy Valley the night before our South game.”
The game was a disaster from the get go as Johnson County couldn’t buy a bucket in the first quarter. The Rebels fared a bit better, placing three players in double figures. Nick Ellege tossed in a game-high 16 points while Copper Johnson and Colton Mullins added 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Rebels shot a poor 16 of 45 from the field but were 8 for 20 from behind the three-point arc.
The Longhorns saw South hold its leading scorer, Jackson Earnhardt, to only 12 points. In the first quarter, they scored only two points over the first five minutes of the game on two free throws and were 0-9 shooting during that span. South was coming off a loss to Happy Valley, who Johnson County pounded the night before. The Longhorns finally got untracked in the fourth quarter but couldn’t find their legs over the first three coming out of the gate flatter than a pancake.
South grabbed every loose ball in the first half and pulled down ten offensive rebounds to none for the Horns. The Longhorns did bounce back and shot 60 percent from the second half floor but dug themselves too much of a hole over the first two quarters to get out.Foul problems plagued both teams as a total of 12 were called during the first quarter, six on each team.
The game wasn’t decided until the final seconds when Ellege blocked Earnhardt’s three-point attempt from the top of the key at the buzzer. Ethan Bower closed his career out in a big way by scoring 11 points, dishing out five assists, and collecting three steals.
The Longhorns shot 50 percent for the game hitting 22 of 44 shots. Jackson Earnhardt led the way with 12 points but was way off his season average of 20 plus points. He had scored 24 and 19 in their two previous meetings. Zack Parsons and Preston Greer added eight points each. Connor Simcox collected ten rebounds while Earnhardt logged nine for the game. Clayton Cross had four assists.
“I can’t say enough about these seniors,” said Head Coach Austin Atwood. “They have been a joy to coach and be around. It is one of the most fun groups of kids that I’ve ever been around and worked hard. They are to be commended for doing such a great job in what was a difficult year with COVID and all.”
Johnson Co. 7 9 19 17 –52
Sullivan So 10 10 18 17 –55
3 point goals
JC 3 *Earnhardt, Greer, Bower)
South 8 (Ellege 2, Johnson 2, Dean 2, Harris 2)
JOHNSON COUNTY (52)
Jackson Earnhardt 5 1-1 12, Clayton Cross 1 0-0 2, Zack Parson 4 0-1 8, Trevor Gentry 0 0-0 0, Ethan Bower 4 2-4 11, Clay Stanley 2 1-2 5, Preston Greer 3 1-2 8, Connor Simcox 3 0-0 6, Totals 22 5-10 52.
SULLIVAN SOUTH (55)
Nick Ellege 5 4-9 16, Cooper Johnson 5 0-2 12, Jackson Dean 3 0-1 8, Drew Hoover 0 2-2 2, Colton Hollins 2 6-7 10, Mason Hall 0 0-0 0, Will Harris 2 0-0 6, Aaron Holmes 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Lyons 0 1-2 1, Totals 17 13-23 55.