By Beth Cox
The eighth-grade night is a right of passage to the players who not only have worked hard during their middle school years, but so many participated in Johnson County’s youth basketball league.
Many players will now be trying out for high school sports, but Thursday night was only about the middle school players and their families.
Each player and cheerleader walked to the center of the court and their families. They were then handed an individual picture when their names were called out. The presentation was a nice sendoff to the athletic participants on their last regular-season game.
Coach Mark McClain expressed his appreciation for the hard work the Longhorns put into the season. He has repeatedly spoken highly of his team and the support of the parents and fans. Juan Mejia described how happy it was to play under McClain, “he’s a great coach and has taught us a lot. We are just ready for the tournament, and we just have to keep winning.”
The girls’ team has struggled to find their way a little, but they have certainly enjoyed the journey. Coach Ricky Shaw put in his first year as coach and did a great job building his own program. The first year is always the toughest as a coach, so big things to come for the girls’ program.
After the girls’ game and the eighth-grade presentation, the Longhorns ended the night in a superior style. Carter Atwood added the points for the night as the seventh-grader just kept making the prettiest three-point shots. Atwood took full advantage of banking those shots at the most opportune time. Darren Chappell brought on the other points but as a strong post player. Chappell dominated the scoreboard in the first quarter. He helped give his team a nice lead early. He had ten points for the night. No.23 is also a strong defensive player and does a good job getting the ball out.
Jack Csillag helped carry the win against Providence home by banking some shots in the fourth quarter. He went home with seven for the night. Carsen Jennings and Juan Mejia added three individually while Landin Lipford, hunter Paisley, and Joe Church contributed two each. For first-round tournament action, the Longhorns take on Church Hill Saturday at Sullivan Central Middle School.