Second-half rally pushes Johnson County past Highlanders

Published 12:08 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Star Photo/Bryce Phillips  Cloudland's Josh Blair fights to get off a pass.

Star Photo/Bryce Phillips
Cloudland’s Josh Blair fights to get off a pass against the Longhorns Tuesday night. 

ROAN MOUNTAIN—The Highlanders were able to take a small lead before the half, however, the Longhorns came out of the locker room with a vengeance as they topped Cloudland 60-38 Tuesday.
“I have coached a lot of years, and there is not many times that a man can come up here with a good team and get a win like that,” said Johnson County head coach Austin Atwood. “Gary (Harrison) does a super job up here and the kids play super hard.”
“We just got lucky and hit a few baskets there in the second half,” Atwood added. “I thought we rebounded the ball really well in the second half.”
The Longhorns were paced by a big game from Bud Icenhour who picked up 21 points while knocking down five three-pointers.
“First half, I think he ended up getting four shots off,” said Atwood. “We discussed that at halftime, and we were able to find him a little more room in the second half. And he hit the shots when he needed to.”
Coming out of the first quarter, the Highlanders trailed the Longhorns 11-9 before tying things up at 11. Back-to-back threes from Noah Arnett and Josh Blair allowed Cloudland to take a 19-14 lead midway through the quarter before the Longhorns made five-straight points to tie things up at 19. Cloudland’s Robert Leeper sunk a bucket and one with four seconds left in the second quarter to help the Highlanders take a 22-19 lead into the locker rooms.
The Longhorns found their rhythm in the third quarter as they outdone Cloudland 16-5 with Icenhour putting up eight points to help his team take a 36-27 lead into the final period.
It was much of the same in the fourth as Johnson County outscored Cloudland 23-11 to push out to their final tally.
Tuesday night was the Highlanders ninth game in just 12 days, said Cloudland head coach Gary Harrison.
“We have to get back to work in practice,” he said. “We ran out of gas a little bit. Johnson County is well coached and have a great team. We have practiced four times with our football kids and we have play nine games in twelve days. I think we will be able to grow from this and learn what we need to do. We are battled tested.”
Tuesday night was Cloudland senior Preston Benfield’s first night back on the court after recovering from a should injury during the Highlanders’ football season. Benfield finished the night with six points against the Longhorns.
“It is good to have him back,” Harrison said. “To be honest, he is a great kid and a good team player. Tonight he was a little out of rhythm and shape. We just have to go back to work and practice.”
The Highlanders were led by Robert Leeper who had 11 points on the night.
Cloudland will pick things back up with a trip to Unicoi on Monday.

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