The fourth try was the charm for Austin Atwood and Johnson County.
The Longhorns rose to the occasion in the District 1-AA boys title game, outlasting Elizabethton’s potent one-two punch of Zeke Clark and Tyler Nichols in a down-to-the-wire 49-41 bout Tuesday night at Bayless Gymnasium.
District MVP Chase Phillips scored 15 points, Brian Dempsey totaled 14 and J.R. Speed 11 to overmatch 17-point outings from both Clark and Nichols of the Cyclones in a defensive effort for the fourth seed — a win that overcomes the same losing fate as teams from 2008, 2009 and 2011 in the finale.
“It kind of happens like this every year,” said Phillips. “We go in with this momentum. We started off strong this year, then kind of had a fall off. We lost two or three games in a row and the coaches told us if we came together, everything would fall into place for us.”