By Tim Chambers
Johnson County’s best performance of the season against co-champion Sullivan East wasn’t quite good enough to get the win, but it definitely caught the eye of Sullivan East head coach John Dyer.
It took overtime for the Patriots to prevail 77-68 inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium before a capacity crowd on Friday.
The final quarter had the home crowd standing on their feet after Johnson County had overcome a double-digit deficit.
East had a chance to salt the game away in the final seconds leading 63-60 with leading scorer Gavin Grubb on the foul line. A rare miss by the senior standout left the door open for Johnson County to tie.
The Longhorns elected to try an errant three-ball from the corner but missed badly. A hustling Nathan Arnold ran down the rebound near the top of the key and launched a three-ball as time expired.
It banked in nicely sending the crowd into frenzy and the game into overtime. But it was all East from that point.
Grubb showed his savvy by hitting a remarkable off balanced layup that resulted in a three-point play to put East in front to stay at 68-65. It was those types of plays that left Dyer shaking his head.
“Both teams played hard for 36 minutes,” said Dyer. “Johnson County had a rough stretch there in the middle of the season, but they didn’t quit and here they are back playing well. They have a great team with some really good shooters. They are as good as anyone in the league right now and I’m expecting them to play that way in the tournament.”
Johnson County used six points by Sean Lewis and five apiece from Bud Icenhour and Dawson Snyder to take a 21-19 first quarter lead.
East recovered in the second quarter to outscore Johnson County 19-8 and took a 38-29 halftime advantage.
Cole Green scored 10 first-half points after Aaron Frye had tallied eight for the ‘Pats in the first period. Edes had 10 for Johnson County at intermission and he continued to light it up in the second half.
The Longhorns managed to chop the deficit down to five, trailing 55-50 heading into the final quarter. Lewis scored five straight points in the final two minutes and Edes converted a deuce at the buzzer. Icenhour’s two treys got the ball rolling early for the Horns who trailed at one point by a dozen in the period.
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