Volunteer sends 'Horns to another home defeat

By Matt Hill

   The Wizard of Oz will probably not be shown at Johnson County High School this week. Dorothy's saying "There is no place like home" hasn't applied to the Johnson County Longhorns boys basketball team this year.
   The Longhorns remain winless at home, as the Volunteer Falcons defeated Johnson County 51-44 Friday night at Ray Shoun Gym.
   "It's a shame when you've got a team that can go on the road and play better than they do at home," Johnson County head coach Austin Atwood said.
   The Longhorns have defeated teams like Hancock County and Unaka on the road, but haven't been able to find that same magic in Mountain City.
   Friday night was no exception.
   The Longhorns had no answer for Ryan Marshall in the first half.
   Marshall scored 21 of his 31 in the first 16 minutes, as the Falcons took a 33-26 lead into the locker room.
   "They outplayed us in the first half," Atwood said. "That's the first team that's really played harder than we did.
   Marshall, who was held to 14 Tuesday night against Hampton, really won the admiration of Volunteer head coach Todd Whittemore.
   "Ryan Marshall stepped up and played like a man tonight," Whittemore said during his post game radio show on WEYE radio.
   Atwood was also impressed with Marshall's first half performance.
   "He's a great rebounder, and a great athlete," Atwood said.
   Johnson County did show some signs of promise in this one. They shut Marshall down to two second half field goals, and only allowed Volunteer to score two points in the third quarter.
   The score was 35-35 going into the fourth quarter.
   Atwood admitted the Longhorns shut down Marshall in the second half.
   "We talked about it a little at halftime," Atwood said. "We switched our defense up a little, and they did stop him. But the first half beat us. We just didn't come out ready to play."
   Rebounding was huge for Volunteer in avoiding the upset. The game was still tied at 41-41 with 2:05 left, but a 9-0 run by Volunteer sealed the deal.
   The Falcons kept getting the rebounds and hitting their foul shots. Whittemore was pleased with how his team responded after being held to two points in the third quarter.
   "After scoring two points in the third quarter, the team didn't pack it in," Whittemore said. "They bounced back to win the game."
   Atwood thought rebounding played a part in the Longhorn loss.
   "Rebounding killed us," Atwood said. "We didn't box anybody out. We just didn't do fundamental things."
   The Longhorns are still looking to get people on the scoreboard. Matt
   Cornett scored 24, while Tommy Short netted 10. Nobody else had more than four points for Johnson County.
   Johnson County has little time to dwell on the Volunteer loss, as Class A powerhouse Unaka will be making a visit to Shoun Gym Monday night.
   The Longhorns and the Rangers have already played three times this season, with Unaka winning two of the three meetings.
   "It's hard to get the bad taste of your mouth when you play Unaka," Atwood said. "The short week is fine, it won't be good or bad. We've got to concentrate on our conference schedule. We dug ourselves a hole tonight."
   Atwood admitted that the Longhorns are going to have to protect their home court if they're going to move up in the conference standings.
   "We come out here and give out free food and candy to the teams, then let them beat us," Atwood said.
   Johnson County falls to 5-12 overall, and 2-4 in the Watauga Conference. Volunteer improves to 10-8 overall, and 4-2 in league play.
   *Coach Atwood was given a technical foul late in the second quarter, and admitted it wasn't a good thing.
   "By no means was it good," Atwood said. "Actually, (the referee) came over in the second half and told me that it was bad call. There wasn't a word said."