Longhorns, Lady 'Dogs triumphant

By Michelle Pope

   MOUNTAIN CITY--The gymnasium was overflowing with Longhorn support Tuesday evening as Johnson County hosted Hampton in its basketball homecoming game.
   The Johnson County boys kept quite a gap between their score and the Bulldogs' for the first three quarters, but Hampton scored twenty-one points in the final frame to shake up the Longhorn bench. However, carried by Jon Stout's ten fourth-quarter points, the 'Horns put the ball in the basket and won 58-53. In girls' basketball action, Johnson County was ahead by five at the end of the second quarter, but solid scoring from the Lady 'Dogs in the second half pushed Hampton to the 59-40 win.
   The Johnson County boys' squad took advantage of an early lead to secure a feeling of safety. Michael Lipford burned up the net early, dropping eleven points in the first quarter. Lipford sunk seventeen of his twenty points before the halftime buzzer.
   The "battle of the threes" began early in the game too, with a basket from behind the arch from Johnson County's Judd Shoun, and one each from Lucas Honeycutt and Travis Smith during the first quarter. Smith scored four of Hampton's five treys. By the end of the first quarter, Johnson County had doubled Hampton's score, going into the second at 16-8.
   In the second, the Longhorns hit three three-pointers in a row, in between six shots from the stripe by Hampton's Zack Trivette. Trivette scored five of his six shots, and hit a two-pointer just before the buzzer. Lipford contributed two of the three's, while Gary Evans made the third. Hampton took a leap forward, totaling eighteen in the second quarter.
   The third quarter was free of any major excitement, but the Longhorns continued their streak of solid scoring, sinking twelve points. Hampton scored six, and at the end of the third, Johnson County led 43-32.
   Smith opened the final quarter for Hampton with two treys in a row. Justin Genaille sunk two foul shots for the Longhorns, and Stout put up a pass from Jesse Jenkins, and tossed up another goal from under the basket. After Stout was fouled, and scored another point, Smith boosted the Bulldogs again by scoring another from behind the arch.
   The tension rose late in the final quarter, as Hampton began to close the gap on the scoreboard with the help of three baskets from Trivette. With less than a minute on the clock, and the Longhorns clinging to the 55-52 lead, the fouling began. Shoun, who was injured earlier in the game, was able to return in the final minutes, and hit both of his foul shots. Smith sunk one for Hampton, and with three seconds left, Shoun was given the final foul shots of the game. He made one, bringing the final score to 58-53 in Johnson County's favor.
   "That's four games in five nights, and two thousand miles of driving," said Longhorn coach Austin Atwood. "I was very proud of the hustle. We didn't make some good decisions, and we didn't adjust to the officiating. Not that the officiating was bad; we just didn't adjust to it. When you play two whole quarters without Shoun, when you lose a leader, leading scorer, leading rebounder, and second to leading in assists, and have to put in two sophomores, it makes it tough. It was great for the younger kids to play in that kind of environment."
   Hampton 59
   Johnson County 40
   The struggle on the court was felt by both teams in the first half, as the Johnson County girls held their own against Hampton. Lacy Oliver, Joy Gardner and Heather Chambers took care of Hampton's scoring in the first, with four, three, and four points. For Johnson County, Elena Owens hit a three-pointer, while Laura Peters sunk two baskets and April McCloud scored two points, putting the score at 11-9 in Hampton's favor by the end of the first.
   Jenny Tugman had an good second quarter in the scoring department, making three baskets for the Lady 'Horns, while McCloud took her turn from behind the arch, sinking a trey. Owens racked up on foul shots, scoring four points. Hampton's Jessica Tolley's mid-game was strong, as she scored five points in the second quarter. In the third, she made four baskets from under the goal, including one from a Gardner drive, and a rebounded basket. Oliver made a trey and a two in the third, helping Hampton to snatch the lead from Johnson County. Hampton led the game 42-35 by the end of the third quarter.
   Hampton blew the Longhorns away in the final quarter, scoring seventeen points, while Johnson County only sunk five. Gardner scored four, Tolley sunk five, and Oliver made a three-pointer.
   Johnson County coach Eric Crabtree was disappointed at the game's outcome. "One thing goes wrong on offense, and the defense falls apart. Then one thing goes wrong on defense, and the offense falls apart. To fall apart in eight minutes is astronomically out the window."
   He gave the Hampton team full credit for winning the game, and acknowledge the strong post-playing Hampton did with Chambers, Gardner and Lauren Pitman. "You may not find three smarter post players in the guard position," he said.
   "They came up and played a slow first half," said Leslie Campbell of her Hampton girls. "They weren't playing hard early. Finally, in the third and fourth quarters, they came out and played physical. Our defense is what turned the game around in the second half. They (Johnson County) shot well the first half. I was just hoping they'd not shoot that good in the second half."
   Campbell got her wish, as the Lady 'Dogs finished the game 59-40.