Bulldogs clamp down on 'Horns

By Matt Hill

   The Hampton Bulldogs might want to get the Johnson County Longhorn basketball players some things for Christmas this year.
   That's because the Longhorns didn't get many gifts in the second half Friday night.
   The Bulldogs held Johnson County to three field goals in the second half en route to handing the Longhorns a 58-38 defeat at VanHuss-White Gym.
   Despite the poor second half shooting, the Longhorns were actually in the contest for much of the game.
   The score was 31-31 going into the fourth quarter, and Hampton was only ahead 36-34 with 5:30 minutes remaining.
   But Johnson County head coach Austin Atwood knew the worst was yet to come.
   "Any time you play Jerry White and the score is that close with four minutes to go, you know you're going to get beat. He'll definitely outcoach you and he outcoached me tonight."
   The Bulldogs then proceeded to outscore Johnson County 13-1 in the next 2:30 minutes, and that was all she wrote.
   A player who came up big in Hampton's run was Ryan Deskins. He only had nine points on the night, but all of those came in the fourth quarter.
   "I was messing up the first of the game, and getting kind of tense," Deskins said. "I just needed to loosen up, score a few buckets, and get in the flow of things."
   Another Hampton player who had been pretty much silent until the fourth quarter was Matthew Campbell. He scored seven of his 10 in the final frame.
   White thought both athletes played integral parts in blowing the game wide open.
   "Ryan stepped up the last part of the fourth quarter," White said. "And I thought Matthew Campbell really gave us some big offensive boards. I felt like it was there all night, we weren't getting the ball down the floor to them."
   The Bulldogs definitely put on a clinic in the fourth quarter, hitting 10 shots from the field.
   Hampton also cut down on its turnovers, and White thought that was big.
   "We were doing exactly what they wanted us to do," White said. "We were trying to make the little lob passes, and they were stealing them. When we quit doing that, it made a difference.
   Hampton didn't get going until the fourth quarter, which is something that Atwood could take some pride in. He thought that the defense played great, which is something the Longhorns have really been stressing lately.
   "We played great defense," Atwood said. "I thought our defense played well. I thought we played hard. But Hampton's got a better team than we do."
   Even though Atwood was very pleased with the defense, he is ready for the Longhorns to combine the offense and the defense, and put them into one package.
   "We haven't put a full game together on both ends of the floor," Atwood said. "That's what we're trying to do. Hopefully, by tournament time we'll able to put a good offensive effort and defensive effort from everybody."
   The Bulldogs did a good job of keeping one of Northeast Tennessee's most explosive players in check. Johnson County's Matt Cornett was held to 13 on the night, and was plagued with foul trouble.
   Cornett was still the leading scorer for Johnson County, with Tommy Short and Judd Shoun adding 11 and 10, respectively for the 'Horns.
   Hampton is now 7-4 overall, and 2-1 in the Watauga. Johnson County falls to 2-8 overall, and 1-2 in league play.
   Hampton will be in action again on Monday at Cloudland, while the Longhorns will return to Van Huss-White Gym to face Class A powerhouse Hancock County in the first round of the Hampton Christmas Classic on Tuesday.