Cyclones ride big second half to 71-59 win over ‘Horns

Published 4:36 pm Monday, December 3, 2018

MOUNTAIN CITY-There are not too many gyms around that provide the environment that Ray Shoun Gymnasium does inside the confines of Johnson County High School.
With that being said, the Three Rivers Conference tip-off for both Elizabethton and the home-standing Longhorns had a flavor of a district tournament game with a raucous crowd and a basketball game that was up for grabs for better than three-quarters of play before the Cyclones responded with a 71-59 win.
‘Horns gain edge out of gates
With the energy of the fan base behind them, Johnson County played well enough to gain a 32-28 lead after the first 16 minutes of play.
It was a high-paced contest with both teams pushing the ball quickly to their end of the court.
Blake Atwood paced the ‘Horns by dropping in 10 points in the half but was compliment well by teammates Zach Eller and Lucas Phillips who contributed eight points each in the half.
Nico Ashley worked hard in the half to keep the Cyclones close by dropping in eight points. Eric Wilson connected on two treys and Evan Perkins added five points for Elizabethton.
Scary moment for a referee
Referee Leonard Johnson was rolled over by Longhorn Blake Atwood and rolled three times before coming to a stop at the end of the Cyclone bench causing the game to be delayed at the end of the first quarter.
Johnson responded on his own two feet but sat the rest of the way forcing a two-man crew to call a fast-paced contest between the two schools.
A second referee went down later in the game also toppled by Atwood but showed no ill effects.
Riding a 17-0 run to a lead not to be relinquished
The Cyclones came out of the locker room with a fire in their eyes and used that intensity to their advantage shutting the Longhorns down until the 50-second mark of the third quarter while building their lead to 43-36 at the end of the third period.
Wilson continued to shoot the ball well hitting for 6 points in the quarter. Perkins blistered the net for a trey as well for the Cyclones.
Perfectly timed timeout calms the Cyclones
Cyclone head coach Lucas Honeycutt probably had the best call of the night after seeing Johnson County respond to cut the lead to 43-41 with a hair over seven minutes left to play.
The Cyclones responded to their coach’s instructions and quickly built the lead back to 10 points, 51-41 in a matter of seconds and never looked back.
Honeycutt has a knack for knowing when to utilize his timeouts, and this one possibly saved the game for his team.
All about the numbers
The Cyclones hit 16-of-17 from the charity line in the fourth quarter and 19-of-22 for the game.
Wilson had another strong outing finishing with 21 points in the game including four treys. Ashley continues to grow and ooze in confidence as he finished right on Wilson’s heels with 19 points.
Perkins had a big night reaching double figures with 15 including three treys.
Carter Everett (7), Bryson Rollins (5), and Parker Hughes (4) finished off the scoring ledger for the Cyclones.
Atwood finished the night with 26 points to lead all scorers in the game. Phillips and Eller collected 13 and 11 points respectively.
Troy Arnold (7) and Michael Oxendine (2) closed out the ‘Horns scoring.
Wilson starting to feel it
“Getting this win was huge for us,” said senior Eric Wilson. “We knew we had to get a win getting ready to go against (Sullivan) East next week and we were focused on this one.
“We saw the rankings and saw they were number five but we knew they were better than that when you have a player like Blake Atwood, and we knew we had to come up here and get a win.
“Well its been four years and at some point, it had to happen,” said Wilson about his confidence in his shooting, especially from the outside. “I worked a lot over the summer, and Coach Honeycutt helped me a lot.
“Its just trust, and after so many times you just have to go.”
Honeycutt speaks
“It was a little bit different environment, and that affected us a little bit in the way we played,” said Cyclone head coach Lucas Honeycutt. “Not playing many games, we still are needing a lot of practice time. A lot of people have played more games, and we are trying to get up to speed.
“I thought we responded well and played well in spurts and did some good things. Our free throws were a bright spot tonight, and we rebounded well.”
“I told them we just needed to understand the clock,” said Honeycutt about his message during the timeout. “I told them we were in control and we needed to take care of the ball and eventually shoot free throws.
“We scored 71 points tonight, and that’s a lot of points. Its been a while since we have done that. That comes from making easy baskets and making free throws.”
On the horizon
The Patriots of Sullivan East come calling Tuesday night in what should be a barn burner of a Three Rivers Conference showdown inside Treadway Gymnasium.
Tipoff for the game will be 8 pm.

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