By Tim Chambers
Johnson County started the game off with a bang, and Brock Thompson finished it with one. The Horns sprang out to a 16-7 first-quarter lead only to watch Brock Thompson light it up for 26 second-half points leading the Blue Devils to their Three Rivers Conference win.
The loss pretty much assures that Johnson County will need to win the play-in game to get into the District tournament, but it didn’t look like that would be the case in the early going.
The trio of Lucas Phillips, Michael Oxentine, and Clayton Cross knocked down shots to help the Horns go up 16-7 in the early going. Unicoi County got within three by the end of the quarter and continued to chip away at the deficit.
Johnson County’s last lead came at 30-29 with 1:11 remaining in the second quarter on a steal and layup by Phillips. The Longhorns trailed 33-31 at the half.
The Blue Devils got a three-point play by Brock Thompson to start the third quarter, but what Thomason did after that buried to Horns. Thompson had only 2 points at halftime but finished with 26 in the second half that included seven treys.
At one point, Thompson sank five consecutive, with most of them coming from deep in the corner. His fourth one in the third quarter put Unicoi County up 55-45 with 35 seconds remaining, and his red hot shooting continued in the fourth quarter.
The closest Johnson County could get in the fourth quarter was 69-63 on a jumper by Clayton Cross, but Thompson answered with a three-ball deep in the corner that pushed their advantage back to nine.
Not only did Thompson’s outside shooting hurt the Horns, but so did the inside play of Unicoi’ freshman sensation Lucas Slagle who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Oxentine led the Longhorns with 19 points and ten rebounds. Phillips added 16 points, and Cross contributed 13. Ethan Bower dished out six assists.
“I thought Clayton Cross did a super job on Thompson in the first half, but they did a good job of getting him open in the second half. I thought Bower and Preston Greer did a good job of guarding the ball in this game. I thought that Slagle had a really good game for them. We would have three or four more wins had we had this type of effort all year long. We just want to be playing our best basketball next week when the District tournament starts. We need to win our first two games.”