By Ivan Sanders, Elizabethton Star
Even before Friday night’s contest against Johnson County, Elizabethton head coach Lucas Honeycutt would have been the first person to tell you that the Longhorns had a very good basketball team especially with a player like Blake Atwood leading the area in scoring at almost 25 points a clip.
While Atwood was putting the ball in the hoop, his father—Longhorn head coach Austin Atwood was pulling the right strings in helping to lead his scrappy team to a 61-55 win and a tie with the Cyclones atop the Three Rivers Conference standings as each team has only one loss in conference play.
Closely contested throughout
The boys’ game was much like the girls’ game played before the boys’ tipoff in that both teams played even throughout and neither team could pull away.
Johnson County took the lead at the first horn by a 12-11 score and both teams matched each other in the second period with 15 points each to see the ‘Horns take a 27-26 edge to the locker room.
The ‘Horns managed to add one point to their lead at the end of the third as the scoreboard read 43-41 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Elizabethton just couldn’t overcome the lead down the stretch as Johnson County spread the court and worked their way to the charity stripe 8 times converting 7 down the stretch.
By the books
Atwood managed to reach his season average thanks to earning 17 trips to the foul line throughout the game and connecting on 15 of those attempts to finish with his 25 points in the contest.
Zach Eller had a big game for the ‘Horns as well netting 18 points on the night. Lucas Phillips reached double figures as well with 10 points.
Gavin Reece contributed with 6 points and Troy Arnold added 2 points for the winners.
Elizabethton was led by a trio of Cyclones who reached double-digit scoring paced by Eric Wilson with 15 points. Nico Ashley dumped in 13 points while Parker Hughes collected 10 points.
Evan Perkins finished the night with 7 points. Carter Everett (4), Jake Roberts (3), and Bryson Rollins (3) closed out the books for Elizabethton.
Honeycutt’s take on the contest
“I think that Blake Atwood is a heck of a player,” said Honeycutt. “I felt like he dominated the game as far as making plays when they needed a big one and just keeping them with a little cushion, a little lead.
“He was just the ‘X’ factor there. They also had a few kids that stepped up and made some shots. The Reece kid knocked down some big ones. Their guys stepped up and were ready to go.
“I thought our kids played hard,” continued Honeycutt. “We didn’t execute well and we turned the ball over way too much. Defensively, we haven’t been playing to our potential and we have seen that.
“People talk about you playing well but as coaches, we are sitting there saying yes, we have to fix this. We know every day from watching film that we have to get better in those aspects of the game.”