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Longhorns turn up defensive pressure to turn back Rangers

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Dec 4, 2018 at 10:04 AM

ELIZABETHTON - Johnson County was in shut down mode in the second half of its non-conference basketball game Monday night at Unaka.

The Longhorns outscored the Rangers 25-4 to open the second half and rolled to a 69-46 victory. While three Johnson County players - Lucas Phillips with 20 points, Blake Atwood with 19 and Zack Eller with 11 - ended in double figures, head coach Austin Atwood was more pleased with the defense effort out of the locker room.

"We always have the goal of three consecutive stops and we had only one in the first half," Coach Atwood said. "We gave up 29 points in the first half and that's too much with the trouble we have scoring sometimes. The second half, we get six of the three consecutive stops and we rebounded much better in the second half."

Troy Arnold battled inside and had seven points, but the biggest output was from Phillips with his 20 points. Meanwhile, Blake Atwood battled back from getting three fouls in the first quarter and sitting out the entire second quarter to finish with 19 points.

"He had a couple of reach calls, and the third he was called over the back on one of our own players, but that's an easy one to miss," Coach Atwood said. "It's not about the officiating. We just have to be smarter because they called it the same way all night. The way that Blake came back from those fouls, that was big."

Unaka fell behind 24-14 in the first quarter, but played Johnson County even in the second to trail 39-29 at the break.

The Rangers weren't able to get in rhythm in the second half. Isaac Hill was the leading scorer with 13 points, followed by Ryan Johnson with 10 points and John Ramsey with eight points.

Girls

Unaka 40, Johnson County 33

The Lady Rangers jumped out to an 18-1 lead early in the second quarter and then had to fight to hang on at the end against the Lady Longhorns.

Johnson County rallied to close to just 24-18 early in the third quarter and trailed by just a single point, 34-33, after a Taylor Cox score. The Lady Rangers clamped down on the defensive end and Myah Parlier and Savannah Tipton finished off the scoring to secure the win.

Parlier led Unaka with 13 polnts, followed by Tipton and Jada Whitehead, each with nine. Madison Pierce had eight points for the Lady Rangers. Cox led Johnson County with 21, while Emmy Miller had five.

"We had taken some bad shots, but Myah, Savannah, Jada, (Cydney) Forney and the others came through," Unaka coach Kenneth Chambers said. "Johnson County is a good team, long and lanky, and they play good half-court defense. I thought it was a hard fought game."

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