Following a two game losing streak, the Johnson County Longhorns were back in top form at home against Happy Valley. Finding a decidedly even keel both offensively and defensively, the Warriors never really had a chance. Spread out among shooters like Brian Dempsey, Chase Phillips, and J.R. Speed, the Longhorns dominated the game from the first quarter and even though Happy Valley kept on battling, the versatility of players like sophomore Cody Bailie ensured that the Warriors could never catch up.
Even so, Coach Austin Atwood admitted that Happy Valley put up a good fight, often taking it to the floor in an effort to regain the ball. At times it got ugly, Atwood said. Weve talked to Bailie the last two or three days about how when he gets open looks, he has to turn and try to make a play. Cody has to start scoring for us. He has to start taking some of the heat off of the post play. Chase, Dalton, and J.R. all take a little heat off of Brian, but weve got to have the post presence taking some heat off of him too. It does create a lot for everybody else because even if he misses, our guys are flying in there and getting the rebounds. But, yeah, Cody was on both ends of the floor tonight.
With Junior Chase Phillips making some huge steals and keeping up the pressure and Brian Dempsey landing basket after basket, Johnson County was quickly looking at a 12-2 lead in the first quarter, made that much worse by a three pointer from Dalton Timbs right at the buzzer. Feeling the energy of the game, players like Patrick South came into the mix on defense, and in the first minute of the second, Johnson County was ahead 17-6.
Basketball is a game of momentum, South said. If you get it going your way you can do well the rest of the night. We got pretty fired up there in the locker room there today and we came out ready to go. We came out dead in the last two games that we played. We just werent ready, but when we came out in the first quarter thats what decided the whole ball game. After that it was all down hill.
The third quarter saw the Warriors make some progress, climbing out of the teens and into the low 20s with a handful of good open looks but with so many of Johnson Countys players making equally good shots of their own it was a losing battle. By the beginning of the fourth, the score was 42-22 in Johnson Countys favor and Happy Valley was simply facing too deep a hole to come out of.
Even more importantly for the Longhorns though was the fact that players like Chase Phillips began to turn around their recent slump in shooting, making several good long shots as well as offensive rebounds. Chase hasnt been playing great, but even in the Sullivan South game I though he really rebounded well, said Atwood. Hopefully we can get him back on track offensively and he had a streak of it tonight.
Between Phillips, Timbs, and Bailie, Johnson County managed to maintain their drive all the way down to the last play eventually finishing up with a huge win 53-37. Scoring was spread evenly with three players in the double digits along with support from players like South. Ultimately though the real value of the win comes in the confidence it helps build as the team nears the end of the season.
Weve got to value the basketball, said Coach Atwood. J.R. did do a good job of that tonight. Every possession we have hes really conscious of the fact that we have to get a shot. I did want them to get out and go a little more. Our guys cant run down the court Science Hill style just slinging it all over the floor, but we do want them to speed it up a little bit. Were trying to just make some minor steps toward tournament time.
Johnson County 55,
Happy Valley 42
Chase Phillips 19
Cody Bailie 15
Brian Dempsey 10
Dalton Timbs 7
J.R. Speed 2
Patrick South 2