Horns hunt down Falcons
By Tim Chambers
Johnson County is suddenly emerging as one of the Three Rivers Conference’s surprise teams with the Christmas break approaching.
The Longhorns ran their record to 10-4 on Monday with a hard fought 58-49 decision over the Abingdon Falcons.
The game was a tight-fisted affair for the get-go with neither team being able to separate themselves from the other.
Johnson County held a slim 17-17 lead after one thanks to 14 points in the frame from Blake Atwood.
Lucas Phillips, Gavin Reece and Troy Arnold would pick up help with the scoring in the second quarter as the Longhorns played even despite Atwood picking up his third foul and sitting out nearly four minutes in the period.
Johnson County led 29-28 at the half.
The Falcons elected to go box-in-one on Atwood in the third quarter and managed to surge in front 42-40 heading into the final quarter.
Zach Eller’s trey and five points by Phillips would keep the Horns in the hunt until they could put away their prey in the fourth.
Atwood bounced back to score five points including a trey and Reece had a big trey along with three clutch free throws. A pair of late buckets from Arnold and Phillips allowed the Horns to walk away with an impressive 58-49 win.
Atwood led the Longhorns with 25 points and seven rebounds. Phillips had a big night with 11 points, four assists and four steals. Reece added 11 points and three assists. Arnold contributed seven points and five rebounds. Eller chipped in with a clutch three-ball and three steals.
Trent Cox scored 12 for the Falcons while Jake Thacker provided 11.
The junior varsity also earned a 33-32 win. Zack Parsons put back a missed shot at the buzzer allowing the Horns to walk away with a victory.
Hindsight is 20-20 but one has to be concerned if the long layoff over the Christmas holidays will hurt both Johnson County basketball teams.
The Longhorns played their final game in 2018 against Hampton on Tuesday and won’t take to the hardwood again until January 4, 2019.
The boys elected to play in the Thanksgiving Classic over in the Bahamas while the girls elected not to play in the Thanksgiving Classic at Happy Valley due to several key players missing.
Head coach Leon Tolley tried to get his team in a couple of tournaments over the Christmas holidays but couldn’t due to no vacant spots.
The boys are currently 10-4 overall and 1-1 in league play. The Lady Longhorns are 2-0 in the conference for the first time in over two decades and 6-5 overall.
The Horns will have a tall task facing Sullivan Central at home when they return to the hardwood.
The Lady Cougars are tied with Johnson County for the league lead on the girls’ side while the Central boys upset league favorite Sullivan East in their last outing.
Central’s 6’1 center Abby Crawford is the league’s top player. Ben Williams had a career high 27 points in the Cougars upset victory over East.
Appalachian State names Satterfield’s successor
The Mountaineers have selected North Carolina State’s offensive coordinator Elijah Drinkwitz as its new head football coach replacing Scott Satterfield who is now the head coach at Louisville.
Appalachian State defeated Middle Tennessee State last week in the New Orleans Bowl and won the Sunbelt Conference Championship.
Drinkwitz will serve as his own offensive coordinator after filling the same roles at Arkansas State, Boise State and with the Wolfpack.
He did not specify what Mountaineers coaches would be retained.