The Region 1-AA semifinal between Elizabethton and Johnson County certainly lived up to the hype. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, the last run of the night didn’t go their way.
Elizabethton was unable to answer a late Johnson County run as the Cyclones fell 65-56 in the Region 1-AA semifinals at Happy Valley on Wednesday. With the loss, Elizabethton concludes their season one game shy of the Region 1-AA Championship game and the substate round.
The Cyclones found themselves in an early hole.
Johnson County saw Mike Oxentine and Blake Atwood along with Gavin Reece hit early shots to push the Longhorns to an 8-0 lead. Parker Hughes broke the EHS drought – that lasted the first six minutes of the game – with a jumper, and the Cyclones added a Nico Ashley jumper late in the quarter to trim the deficit to 10-4 at the end of the first quarter.
After Johnson County pushed the lead to 10 points, Bryson Rollins and Evan Perkins put points on the board to cut the lead to six points midway through the second quarter. The Longhorns pushed the lead back out to 11 points, but Jake Roberts and Ashley sparked a 7-2 run to end the half to pull EHS back within six points.
In the third quarter, the teams traded runs early on. Eric Wilson capitalized on a 4-point play to pull EHS within two points, but Atwood and Oxtentine responded for Johnson County. Elizabethton, however, saw the trio of Wilson, Roberts and Ashley hit shots in a 7-0 run that pushed the Cyclones to their first lead of the night, 40-38, with three quarters in the book.
The Longhorns answered in the first minute of the fourth quarter as Lucas Phillips and Atwood pushed JC to a four-point lead a minute into the frame. Wilson and Hughes answered with jumpers of their own, and Rollins knocked down a pair of free throws to push EHS to a 46-44 lead with 6:05 to play.
After the teams traded shots that saw EHS maintain a 47-46 lead, Atwood went on a 4-0 run of his own to push Johnson County to a 50-47 lead with just over two minutes to play. Hughes cut the gap to one-point for Elizabethton and Wilson cut it to two after a Reece 3-pointer.
The Cyclones, however, were unable to get back in front as a quick 8-0 run gave the Longhorns a 61-51 lead with just under a minute to play. Ashley and Roberts hit shots in the final minute, but EHS was unable to mount a rally.
Ashley led Elizabethton with 14 points, while Wilson finished with 12 points. The freshman Roberts scored 10 points for the EHS cause. Perkins tallied eight points. Hughes and Rollins had six points each.
Atwood – who is a Mr. Basketball candidate – ended the night with 34 points to lead all scorers. Phillips had nine points, while Oxentine scored eight points for the Longhorns.
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