Highlanders rise like a Phoenix to defeat Longhorns
BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ROAN MOUNTAIN – The Johnson County Longhorns were digging their horns into the gates and snorting loudly as they looked to shake the hinges loose and make a stampede back home to Mountain City.
However, the Cloudland Highlanders were showing a John Wayne stubbornness as they dug their heels in and refused to be bullied around trailing 42-29 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Like a Phoenix that rises from the ashes, the ‘Landers put together an unbelievable fourth quarter behind the urging of their head coach Tyler Chambers who kept pushing and prodding the boys from Roan Mountain forward until they finally settled the restless herd of Longhorns to take a stunning 58-50 victory that left Chambers clutching his fist in celebrating the huge win for the first-year head coach.
The first half was a physical clash of both teams who were looking to establish inside superiority as the game went back and forth until the Longhorns managed to work themselves to a 24-20 after the first 16 minutes of play.
Trevor Gentry scored six points to help stake Johnson County to the early lead. Jackson Earnhardt totaled five and Clayton Cross pitched in with four to build the four-point advantage.
Caleb Sluder was doing his part to keep the home team within reach as he scored eight points in the first half – all coming in the first quarter. Bentley Gilbert knocked down five points including 3-of-4 from the foul line.
Elijah Blair added three points for the ‘Landers in the first half while Victor Hicks and Dylan Shell added two points apiece.
The Highlanders came out of the locker room and struggled to get the ball to fall through the cylinder as the Longhorns took advantage and outscored Cloudland 18-9 in the quarter to build the 42-29 lead heading to the final eight minutes of action.
Johnson County actually built the lead to 15 early in the fourth quarter before the Highlanders changed gears into warp speed playing tight defense while taking advantage of Longhorn turnovers to quickly slice that lead down before taking the lead and never looking back.
The ‘Landers outscored Johnson County 29-8 in the quarter to leave no doubt in the contest.
Gilbert went off in the fourth period scoring 14 of his game-high 23 points including 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Elijah Blair, Sluder, and Victor Hicks all scored five points in the final eight minutes to help their team to the win.
Earnhardt scored 17 points to pace the Longhorns while Cross finished with 10 points.
Johnson County (50)
Connor Simcox (1), Trevor Gentry (6), Zac Parsons (4), Clayton Cross (10), Preston Greer (2), Jackson Everhardt (17), Ethan Bowers (8), Clay Stanley (2).
Victor Hicks (11), Caleb Sluder (14), Dylan Shell (2), Bentley Gilbert (23), Elijah Blair (8).
Johnson County…… 12 12 18 8 – 50
Cloudland……………. 10 10 9 29 – 58