By Beth Cox
After the success the JCMS Longhorns had on the home court against Mosheim, everyone was expecting a repeat win for the young team at home Thursday night, but Unicoi had other plans.
The game started fast and furious for both teams; it was obvious this game would be a fight to the end. With 5:32 on the clock, Dalton Pope made three points, followed closely by James Bowers and Samuel Greer with two each. With 3:48 in the first quarter, the score is 8-0, but not for long. Unicoi took advantage of the Longhorn turnovers, and with 34 seconds in the first quarter, Unicoi regained momentum and is up 13-10. The second quarter belonged to the Blue Devils. Unicoi fired up to five points with 5:29 on the clock.
Conner Simcox worked hard in the second quarter to get something started for his team. Tanner Bulliner helped close the gap with a three-point shot quickly followed by Simcox and Pope’s two-point play, the score is close (19-23) but only briefly, Unicoi fired up eight points before the half.
Simcox was plagued with missed opportunities at the foul line, but again he dominated under the goal and was able to make fifteen points for the night. The Longhorns had too many turnovers in the second half, which helped Unicoi get those extra points.
The third quarter was all about the Blue Devils, with the score 30-40 the Longhorns needed to make some adjustments, but the Blue Devils had the winning energy on their side and just kept making their baskets. With 1:24 on the clock in the fourth quarter, the game belonged to Unicoi.
Simcox’s strength underneath the basket is powerful. Pope is strong outside, but unforced errors and missed shots plagued the Horns all night.
Coach Mark McClain felt his boys played hard but turned the ball over too much, giving up several uncontested shots.
“I continue to see improvements each game,” McClain said.
He also knows there is work to be done, “We need to place a higher value on taking care of the ball and getting the good shot each possession.” Simcox finished the night with fifteen points followed by Greer with seven and James Potter with six.