Comets top Jr. 'Horns

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   It was like a showdown between two gun fighters in the wild west, as the Central boys shot down the Johnson County Longhorns in the final minute of action to come away with a 42-37 victory on Monday night.
   A quick start for the Comets in the first half gave them anywhere from a five to 10-point advantage, but in the final two quarters Johnson County came back to almost steal the win.
   "The momentum turned on us and we had to settle down and go back to our gameplan because we got away from it," said Central coach Lamont Barnett. "We had to be patient at the end and didn't try nothing fancy, so it finally paid off for us."
   Central opened with a 6-0 lead after a couple of goals scored inside by Jared Cline along with Wesley Church converting the fast break.
   The Longhorns got themselves on the board off of a shot by Brian Dollar down low as he led Johnson County in the first period with four points.
   A three-point goal from Adrian Hopson and a couple of putbacks by Cain McWalter gave Central a 15-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
   Hopson drained a couple of 15-foot jumpers from the right corner, but Joe Greer was able to respond from the outside also to keep the 'Horns within distance.
   The Comets took a 23-14 lead at the break after Caleb Johnson found Church inside the paint for the deuce.
   Johnson County made a rally to start the third quarter, cutting the deficit to one point with 2:30 left in the period.
   Some pressure defense from the Longhorns created the turnovers and points off the break, with Tyler Leonard making it a 26-25 ball game.
   "We kindly got careless with our passing and they got aggressive on us and stole the ball, so we have to start working on that," said Barnett. "We did get in a little foul trouble, but they were playing aggressive and that's something I like to see."
   Central was able to turn up the wick for the remainder of the quarter, going on a 6-2 run.
   A pass from McWalters to Church inside, followed by a drive from Johnson, made it 33-27 at the end of the third in favor of Central.
   Johnson County made another nice run to start the final period, with Austin Paisley knocking down two free throws and Nevin Snyder connecting on the three.
   The 'Horns were never quite able to get over the hump, as they saw several opportunities to gain the lead slip away.
   A steal by Leonard, who tried to tie the contest on a breakaway, was stopped by a swat from Johnson.
   Trailing by just one with 28 seconds left, Brian Dollar was unable to convert a shot on his two free-throw attempts.
   The Longhorns caught a break on the in-bounds from Central after a time-out, but the turnover the Comets had committed was given right back, with the ball going out of bounds on Johnson County.
   "The ball just didn't bounce our way in the final minute. We were tied up at one point and had a chance to go ahead, but it didn't work out for us," said Johnson County coach Chris Mullins.
   Central was able to ice the game in the final 20 seconds by hitting five out of six shots from the charity stripe.
   "We shot ourselves in the foot several times, but I'm proud of my boys for coming back and fighting hard," said Mullins. "We have to win by playing defense. We don't have a whole lot of height."
   Johnson Co. 42 (Girls)
   Central 18
   Central's girls were no match for the big bodies inside from Johnson County, which controlled the boards and dominated the fast break to capture a decisive victory.
   "We've been working on running our break," said Lady 'Horns coach Steve Nave. "We need to be able to fill the lanes and get out, so we did that pretty good tonight."
   The Lady Comets hung tough in the opening period by grabbing the first points of the contest on a steal and bucket off the press from Billy Jean Campbell.
   A 12 foot jumper by Laura Moore tied the game at 4-4, but a steal from Jill South, along with the bucket and foul, put the 'Horns ahead at the end of the first period by two.
   The Comets had trouble on the boards in the second period, as Kechia Eller had success and the rebound and putback.
   "We had a much better height advantage -- we're a bigger school -- but they certainly play hard," said Nave. "They gave us trouble in the first period, but we adjusted to their press and played really well."
   The Johnson County defense also turned it up a notch, as a steal and pass from Amber Billings found a wide open South on the break.
   Central struggled offensively in the second period, as its only point came off a free throw by Haley Sisk.
   "We have a lot of inexperience and right now we just don't have that team leader that needs to step up for us," said Central coach Letha Carr.
   After taking a commanding lead of 22-5 at halftime, the 'Horns continued to dominate inside, with Rachael Sannes crashing the boards and scoring six points during the third.
   A shot by Brittney Renner at the buzzer gave the Comets a little momentum to start the final period, but the Johnson County advantage was too much for the Central to overcome.
   Renner finished with night as the game-high scorer for Central with nine points, while South led the Longhorns with 11, while Sannes added nine.
   "We have no size except for one girl, and we had trouble stopping the break," said Carr. "They do a good job in practice, but seems like when it comes to a game they start getting scared."