Two tough losses for 'Horns against East

By Jeff Birchfield

MOUNTAIN CITY --There are two sides to every story.
The Sullivan East fans will marvel at how both their boys and girls basketball teams made tough comebacks to win on the road. The Johnson County faithful will tell of how their two teams rarely played with so much guts and so much effort only to suffer heartbreaking losses.
Sullivan East (6-3) on the strength of four treys to end the third period, defeated Johnson County 66-60 in overtime Monday night at Ray Shoun Gymnasium in a key non-conference matchup.
"Boy, they played tough," said East head coach John Dyer, whose team made eight treys for the game. "They out toughed us until the second half, when our players finally matched their toughness over the final minutes.
"We got down about 10 points and made a great comeback. We can shoot the threes. When we set our feet and make the extra pass, we can shoot the basketball. Our kids didn't give up and I'm real proud of them."
Coming back from a trip to Colorado over the weekend where they played in a pre-Christmas tournament, Johnson County arrived home early Monday morning. The expected fatigue didn't set in according to their head coach until after regulation had ended.
"We played real hard," said 'Horns coach Austin Atwood, who played under Dyer when he coached at Johnson County in the mid-80's. "We were real tired. We didn't get in until 12:30 last night after a 15-hour trip, but we were still able to match their intensity.
"The only time I think the trip affected us was when we went to overtime. I didn't want it to get to overtime. We came in off a time out and didn't run the play we were suppossed to, but it was a great game."
The East victory offset a tremendous individual effort by the Longhorns' Jon Stout. The top post player for Johnson County pounded his way inside to score a game high 24 points.
The Longhorns (3-5) also received 22 points from Judd Shoun, while his backcourt mate Michael Lipford tallied nine.
"It was alright I guess, considering we didn't win," said Stout about his strong prescence on the inside. "All you can do is put a loss like this behind you. We just have to come back and play hard tommorrow.
"I didn't play that good out in Colorado, so I guess I just tried harder after we came home. We have a couple of the best guards around in Judd and Michael, so me and Frank (Icenhour) just have to help them out a little bit."
The Longhorn scores were offset by the Patriot combo of Donovan Dye and Dusty Craig, who put up 21 and 10 points respectively. Dye in particular was a thorn in the side of the Longhorn victory plans in the late stages as he scored on each of East's first three possessions in overtime.
The teams battled closely early on before Johnson County took the first real advantage, leading 17-10. At the end of the first quarter, the Longhorns led 20-15 behind nine points by Stout and six by Shoun.
Stout made the last three baskets for the 'Horns in the second quarter as they stretched out the lead to 30-20. Right before the halftime buzzer, Wes Peer nailed a three-pointer to pull East back within seven at 30-23.
Johnson County would lead by as many as 11 in the third, before treys by Jared Lyon, Dye and Hunter Crowder pulled the Patriots back within two 48-46 before the final quarter. The 'Horns held a five-point lead with only three minutes left in the game, but East fought back with scores by Craig and Dye to tie the game at 54-apiece.
The Longhorns weren't able to capitalize on having the last possession in regulation as Shoun tossed up a wild shot at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
Stout tied the score at 60-60 with 1:30 left in the extra period, but six free throws by East put the game away. The Patriots were excellent at the stripe when they most needed it, sinking 10 of their last 12 foul shots.
Peer on the strength of two treys was another double digit scorer for Sullivan East with 11 points.
Both teams will return to action tonight against Carter County teams. Sullivan East takes on Unaka, while Johnson County will face nearby rival Hampton.

Sullivan East 48, Johnson County 37 (Girls)
For the Sullivan East girls they had an equally splendid story to repeat. Down ten points midway through the third period, they staged a 22-2 run to come back and defeat the Lady Longhorns.
"We dug ourselves a hole," said Lady Patriot head coach Laura Vaughn, whose team improved to 4-5 on the season. "We played one quarter and then took one off. If we can ever get four quarters together we will be a pretty decent team down the stretch."
Johnson County (0-2) facing a tall, athletic team, implored a strategy one might see more in a football game to lead the first two and a half quarters.
"We couldn't have played much better than we did in the first half," said Lady Longhorn head coach Eric Crabtree. "We ran a couple of reversals. It's kind of like football - we controlled the ball and we controlled the clock. We knew they weren't going to get many possessions.
"Then in the second half, we got away from that. They got on a roll and it just snowballed."
The strategy for JC had worked the better part of the game giving them a 27-18 lead before Shelley Hayes got the ball rolling for the Lady 'Pats with a bucket inside. She and Katie Miller would later cap off the scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Johnson County finally got back-to-back scores in the fourth quarter with free throws first by Elena Owens and then April McCloud. They pulled within seven points on a couple of occassions late in the contest, but could not overcome the Sullivan East lead.
The Lady Patriots received 17 points from Miller that included three baskets behing the three-point line. Seven point efforts came from Kristen Ervin and Hayes, while Kaycee Roberts furnished six points in the victory.
"Miller did a good job for us," said Vaughn about one of her tallest players being stationed at point guard. "She's really playing out of position. We really don't have a true point guard. She played it in middle school, so she can handle the ball. With her having to play out there, it costs us some points inside, but at least we can get the ball downfloor."
Owens led the Lady 'Horns with 12 points, McCloud posted 11, while Laura Peters and Paige Morefield each added five.
"We're going to have to shoot a little better, but we're growing," said Crabtree. "All of our younger girls are playing well. When you have so many freshmen and sophomores playing and none of them besides Paige have extensive playing time in varsity, it's tough. The effort they are putting forth against girls who are much more mature is a great effort."