Johnson County bounces back to knock off Vikings

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY--It was an angry herd of Longhorns at the 'Topper Palace Saturday night, and they were ready to stampede back into the victory column.
   And Johnson County did just that.
   The 'Horns rebounded from a 48-point loss to Science Hill on Friday night to defeat Tennessee High 62-52 yesterday as part of a basketball doubleheader at Science Hill.
   "We embarrassed ourselves last night," Longhorn point guard Judd Shoun said about the Science Hill game. "We didn't run anything and played really stupid. Tonight we came out with a little more fire and intensity than we did last night. We just played to our ability I think more than we did last night."
   The Longhorns did the things that don't show up in the boxscore better on Saturday night. There was one possession in the second quarter where the Longhorns came up with four offensive rebounds before Michael Lipford finished with the bucket.
   One guy that battled inside all night was Frank Icenhour, who had maybe the biggest game of his career with a 14-point effort.
   "Frank played well," Johnson County head coach Austin Atwood said. "Frank came in and gave us a good solid big man in there, and when they doubled down on Matt Cornett in the high post, he would kick it to him and he made the shots. He hit his free-throws and rebounded well."
   Icenhour already had the Science Hill game out of his memory when he took the floor against the Longhorns' third Big Seven opponent in a row.
   "We just put that behind us," Icenhour said. "We came out today and went through with our game plan, and did what we had to do."
   That game plan was to slow it down and play defense. The Longhorns did that well in the first half.
   Johnson County held Tennessee High to two first quarter field goals en route to holding a 13-4 advantage after that frame.
   The Longhorns led by as many as 14 in the second quarter before a late run by Tennessee High sent Johnson County to the locker with a 27-19 edge.
   "We just had to control ourselves and be disciplined," said Longhorn forward Tommy Short, who led all scorers with 19 points. "Last night we weren't very disciplined, and we played their style of basketball. Tonight we played our style and executed our game plan."
   Tennessee High rallied in the second half, and trailed 41-38 going into the fourth quarter. But the Longhorns once again rose to the occasion.
   Propelled by a bucket from Short and clutch free-throw shooting from Icenhour and Shoun, the Longhorns built a 48-40 lead with just 5:08 left to go.
   The Vikings could get no closer than five points from that point on, and the Longhorns went on to put the game out of reach.
   "We came in with a game plan, and we did it in spurts," Atwood said. "We didn't do it the whole game. We about let them come back in it. We didn't play well the whole game, but we did in spurts."
   Even though Atwood thought it wasn't perfect, he was pleased to defeat a Class AAA school with a tradition like the one Tennessee High has.
   "I do feel good about it," Atwood said. "There were two things about tonight. You play the first game, and it's hard to get up. A lot of kids play on emotion. And then when you take a kicking like we took last night, it's hard to come back and play after that. And they came back and played hard."
   It was definitely a night to remember for Icenhour. It looks like he's on the verge of giving the Longhorns another major scoring threat.
   Icenhour expects even better things in the future.
   "They'll be many more this year that will be better," he said.
   Said Shoun: Frank played really, really hard. I'm real proud of Frank. He rebounded well and put in some offensive boards for us."
   Shoun added 11 points to the Longhorn cause. Matt Buchanan and Justin Hampton each poured in 14 points for Tennessee High.
   The Longhorns will be back in action Tuesday night at home in a key Watauga Conference battle with Sullivan Central.