Slow start dooms Highlanders

Published 4:49 pm Sunday, December 11, 2022

By Ron Marvel
Star Correspondent
The Cloudland Highlanders could only muster three points in the first quarter as they went down to the Johnson County Longhorns at Home Friday night. Longhorns defensive pressure pestered the Highlanders all night. That’s not to say the Longhorns were offensive juggernauts, as they were producing turnovers, they just couldn’t take advantage of the Highlanders lack of ball security. An intentional foul by Longhorns Connor Simcox would set the tone for what, at the time, would become a chippy game. The Highlanders would close to within seven after a couple of free throws by Cayden Clarke, but a 3-pointer by Longhorn Graham Reece would pace the Longhorns to a 25-13 halftime lead.
The second half would see the continuance of the physical nature and the inability of both teams to take advantage of their opportunities. The Longhorns did a good job of disguising their press and when the Highlanders would break the press, they couldn’t finish off shots. Back-to-back three-pointers by Longhorns Eli Dickens would push the lead 34-15.  A jumper by Gage McKinney would cut the Longhorn lead down to 14 but Reece would answer with Longhorns three-pointer to give the Longhorns a 41-26 advantage going into the fourth. The Longhorns would start the final stanza by outscoring the Highlanders 13-7 and pushing the lead back to 18 at 54-33 off of a slicing lay-up by Simcox. Highlander guard Ryan Sexton would try to keep his team in it, scoring six in the quarter, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Highlanders would fall by a score of 61-42. Johnson County head basketball coach Austin Atwood would talk about his teams’ efforts after the game “we played hard tonight, not always smart we have to capitalize on our opportunities, but we battled and played hard.” Dylan McClellan would finish the game with a hard-fought ten points for the Highlanders, while Ryan Sexton would chip in nine.  Johnson County’s Connor Simcox would lead all scorers with 12, while Graham Reece and Eli Dickens would toss in 11 and nine, respectively. The Highlanders will next travel to Glade Spring, Virginia, on Monday to play the Patrick Henry Rebels, while the Longhorns will play host to the Holston Cavaliers.
JV Boys – Longhorns 58, Cloudland 44
A big second quarter in which the Longhorns would score 17 points was sparked by two three-pointers from sophomore Longhorns player Eli Dickens, it would be enough to send his team to a 14-point victory. Dickens would lead all scorers with 27 as the two JV squads faced off, including six three-pointers.  Nick Caraway and Austin Caraway would score 15 and 11 for the Highlanders in the loss.

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