'Horns jump Warriors for 58-42 Watauga win

By Jeff Birchfield

   MOUNTAIN CITY -- Johnson County's defense proved as stiff as the win blowing across the Butler Bridge in Tuesday night's 58-42 win over Happy Valley at Ray Shoun Gymnasium.
   Holding the Warriors to 11-for-40 shooting and forcing 19 turnovers, Johnson County controlled the tempo for the majority of the four quarters.
   "Any win is a good win for us," said Longhorn head coach Austin Atwood. "It wasn't a very exciting game, but it was a win. Judd Shoun had an excellent game for us. What we need out of Judd is to get a game with double-digits out of him occasionally.
   "He's a possession player. What I mean by that is he's got to keep possession of the basketball and not turn it over. When he keeps the tempo for us, we have a chance to win some ballgames."
   As good as the Longhorn defense was, Happy Valley's offense packed little punch on this night. Midway through the second quarter, no single Warrior had scored more than two points.
   "We had a couple that didn't even score tonight," said Warrior mentor Charlie Bayless. "We have to have Lamar (Rollins) score eight or 10 points a ballgame. We threw the ball away a bunch of times. We didn't make a good pass all night.
   "I didn't have a one of the boys step up and play good ball. They would all be C-players tonight. I wouldn't give an A to one of them. If I graded the whole team, there wouldn't be anything above a C."
   When Johnson County had the ball, they knew exactly what to do with it. Most of the time, it meant keeping the ball in point guard Shoun's hands. Shoun led the Longhorn effort with 17 points. On the other end of the court, he was a major thorn in the side of the Warriors' guards nabbing five steals.
   "Our defense is getting a lot better, especially our 1-3-1 (zone)," explained Shoun. "We're cutting off the shooters a lot better on the swing passes. We're playing hands down like coach taught us. We cut them off driving to the lane. You have to do the little things in order to win."
   The big offensive guns on the team, Matt Cornett and Tommy Short also had stellar numbers. Cornett scored 15 points and Short chipped in 13. Three others -- Chad Reece, Zac Trivette and Mike Lipford -- nailed shots behind the three-point line.
   "We talked about finding the gaps," said Atwood. "We knew Happy Valley would run a lot of zone and try to slow the game down. We worked the last couple of days of trying to hit those seams. We wanted to get some open looks at the high post."
   Jason Tittle hit a shot just inside the three-point arc to give HV its only lead of the game at 2-0. Short countered with a bucket on the other end that was the first of 11 straight Longhorn points.
   The Warriors briefly cut the lead to six, but got no closer as it appeared the Longhorn defense was always a step ahead. "I thought they played real good defense," said Bayless. "They were quicker. They jumped the ball real well and we were hesitant. Nobody on our team would penetrate to the hole with it. That was the difference in the ballgame.
   "None of our three-point shooters hit from outside and we didn't get anything inside. They just gave us a good Mountain City chopping."
   Chris Campbell led the Warriors in scoring with 16 points, while freshman Andrew Bowman was next in line with 6.
   Johnson County improved to 3-6 in the Watauga Conference and 6-15 overall with the victory. The Warriors fell to 3-6 in conference games and 5-10 overall with the loss.
   Coach Bayless was complimentary about updates made to Ray Shoun Gymnasium since the Warriors' last visit. "They've made great improvements up here," said Bayless. "The lights and the dressing rooms and all are good improvements. It's a good place to play up here."
   Lady Longhorns 51
   Lady Warriors 50
   Jessica Townsend hit the game winning free throws with six seconds left to lift the Lady Longhorns to a needed Watauga Conference win over the Lady Warriors.
   "Happy Valley was on the line," explained Lady Longhorn coach Eric Crabtree. "They went ahead by one and on the rebound of the second shot, the girl fouled Jessica with six seconds left. She came down and hit both free throws.
   "We've been close to winning a lot. We took Volunteer in overtime. We lost to them (HV) by five in the final minutes last time. So, we've had some games where luck hasn't went our way. Today, we got a bounce."
   Townsend was the offensive spark plug for Johnson County scoring a game-high 19 points.
   "She played hard from the beginning to the end," boasted Crabtree. "For one night, she stayed out of foul trouble and that was big. Here recently, she goes into every fourth quarter with four or five fouls. Having her at the end of the ballgame was huge."
   Andrea McQueen had her usual good outing, scoring 13, while Courtney Shaw added eight.
   "She had a real good game in the first half," remarked Crabtree about McQueen. "In the second half, we had to go a little more inside. Even though she wasn't scoring, she did things that helped us in the second half too."
   Freshman guard Brandi Dugger paced Happy Valley with 13. Post players Terra Whaley and Brandi Morgan added 10 and 9 points respectively for HV.
   Nikki Davidson hit a couple of treys as it as the Lady Longhorns' first conference win of the season. They now stand at 1-8 in the Watauga are and 6-12 overall.
   Happy Valley fell to the bottom of the standings at 1-8 and 3-14 overall. Next up for the Lady Warriors will be a contest with Elizabethton on Friday.
   Johnson County hopes the momentum from this first league win can help them when they tangle with nearest rival Hampton also on Friday.