Two fiery fourth-quarter runs. The top two seeds stunned.
Elizabethton and Johnson County, by virtue of strong second-half performances, willed their way into the District 1-AA boys championship game. Sullivan South and Unicoi County were left in shock.
Sullivan South 60
The Rebels couldn’t shut down Clark and Nichols. In essence, they were unable to tame Elizabethton.
Despite a strong start from Dalton Light and Will Blair, who helped South take a three-point lead into the locker room, the Rebels were overwhelmed around the glass and couldn’t stop the Cyclones’ second-chance opportunities in the second half.
Big defensive games from Austin Cornett (seven points), Alex Jones, Bo Pless (nine points), DeRon Wells and Conley Bowers served as a nice complement to a 23-point performance from Clark and a 22-point night fom Nichols, who added a 13-of-17 effort from the charity stripe.
Johnson County 66
Unicoi County 55
The never-quit, refuse-to-lose attitude of the Longhorns paid dividends. An eight-point deficit at the end of one, a double-digit deficit into an even keel second quarter, a third-quarter spark and then a final quarter domination.
With Blue Devil standout post Connor Simpson sidelined midway through the third, the paint was taken over by the Longhorns. Using a zone defense, Johnson County took advantage of Unicoi misses and struck at the other end with a series of clutch makes to pull within 43-39 entering the fourth.
“We closed out the third quarter real good and got guys going,” said Chase Phillips, who sparked the fourth-quarter charge.