Garland's 40 sends Devils past 'Horns

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR Correspondent

   The Unicoi Blue Devils cut off the Longhorns' chances of victory on Friday, defeating Johnson County 74-71 at Ray Shoun Gym.
   It was the opening premiere of the Nick Garland show as he exploded to scoring 40 points upon the night, 25 of them during the first-half.
   "I stepped up the best I could tonight, and I just played hard and made some shots," said Garland.
   "I think the whole team helped out in the first half with Michael Price and Darrell Roop hitting me on the cuts, and I was just able to finish them," said Garland.
   Chris Brown started things off for the Devils in the second quarter, after catching a pass from Garland down low for the score.
   Garland gave a good example of his Emmy winning performance in the second quarter by taking it inside and drawing a foul from Matt Cornett for a three-point play.
   "We didn't play defense very well in the first half, and that's what we play on," said Johnson County coach Austin Atwood.
   This was Cornett's third personal coming with 5:28 left until half, which put the Longhorn's offensive spark on the bench for the rest of the period.
   Unicoi grabbed its biggest lead after that as Darrell Roop knocked down two consecutive threes to make it 32-20.
   "We came out not ready to play, and Unicoi County did a good job of executing their gameplan," said Atwood.
   The Blue Devils continued to hold their margin by going in at the half with a 39-27 advantage.
   Johnson County came out in the second half making their statement, that the show was not over just yet.
   Tommy Short began getting on track to score the Longhorn's first eight points of the third.
   "We played sorry during the first half, and we dug ourselves a hole and couldn't get back out," said Short.
   Short led the Longhorns in scoring with 27, including four three-point goals, followed by Cornett, who finished with 23.
   "I think if we had played defense and rebounded better, then we probably would have won this game," said Short.
   The Longhorns had closed the deficit down to three with just two minutes gone off the clock in the third quarter, after Judd Shoun stroked the three from beyond the arch.
   Johnson County's first tie came with 4:19 left, when Cornett made one of two free-throws, making it 45-45.
   The Longhorns were finally able to grab the lead two minutes later, after Cornett sank the first of two foul shots, as he was 5-for-8 from the line, and 20 for 29 for the team total.
   The Blue Devils managed to hold a two-point lead after the third quarter, as Garland was still acting out a big screen performance with 11 points in the period.
   In the last quarter of play, Unicoi County's big man Ryan Patterson stepped up in his role, by scoring nine of his 11 points in the game.
   "Two weeks ago we decided to pick-up the pace, and that is what we have done by making shots and having other kids step up," said Unicoi County coach David Whaley.
   The Devils went up by as many as nine, but the combination of Short and Shoun kept the Longhorns within striking distance.
   Shoun closed the gap down to two with 45 seconds left, after following his missed shot and making the put back.
   Johnson County created a turnover in the final half-minute giving them a chance to tie or take the lead, but Cornett was unable to convert on a couple of attempts, forcing the Longhorns to foul Roop with 5.1 seconds to go.
   Roop knocked down his first attempt but was a little short on the second one, as Short grabbed the rebound with one last chance to send it to overtime.
   With the defense hanging all over Short, he was unable to hit the three, as the ball bounce off the glass and rim with time expiring.
   "We knew they would be coming back in the second half, but we were able to answer the run," said Whaley.
   Lady Blue Devils 71
   Lady Longhorns 37
   The Lady Longhorns were cast out by the Unicoi County girls in a convincing way.
   "I thought this was one of our better performances on the year for we got up and down the floor really well," said Unicoi County coach Glenn Fisher.
   Kim Anders led the way for the Devils, as she poured in twenty-two points on the night along with two three-point goals, followed by Amber Bailey who finished with 11.
   Unicoi built a ten-point lead during the first period, when Elizabeth Weaver made the steal off the press for the easy score.
   The Longhorns managed to keep themselves within contention during the first half, thanks to back to back three's from Andrea McQueen, who finished as Johnson County's high scorer with 18.
   Johnson County trailing 36-24 at the half seemed to come out flat, after being outscored 18-2 during the third period of play.
   "We did an excellent job of controlling the boards, and were able to out-rebounded them 25-9 in the first half," said Fisher.
   Things did not improve for the Longhorns in their period of action, as Rachael Oler knocked down a tray right off the bat, followed by Meghan Headley with a put back on the fast break.
   "They killed us on rebounds and also played well, and when we had those things happen, they wore us out," said Johnson County coach Eric Crabtree.
   The Longhorns were unable to keep pace with the run and gun play of the Blue Devils, as they fall to 1-11 in the conference and 6-15 overall.
   "I don't think their press was that exceptional, but it set the tempo to let them play their game," said Crabtree.
   Unicoi County extends to 8-4 in conference play and 18-5 on the season.