ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. — Cloudland had the last laugh in its home matchup at Sonny Smith Gymnasium over the Johnson County Longhorns on Monday night, Dec. 21.
The ‘Landers used a 20-point run to end the game to race to a 58-50 victory.
The girls contest was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Johnson County girls basketball program. When the boys contest began, however, the matchup was a matter of dueling scoring runs.
After Johnson County opened the scoring, Caleb Sluder scored six consecutive points for Cloudland, but the Longhorns countered with a 10-2 scoring spurt to take the lead. Johnson County held a 12-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second stanza, the ‘Landers reeled off the first five points of the frame after Elijah Blair converted an old-fashioned three-point play to take the lead. CHS pushed its lead to five points, but the Longhorns answered with a 9-0 run to end the half, taking a 24-20 advantage into the locker room.
Johnson County found a groove in the third quarter, as the Longhorns held Cloudland to only nine points for the period. This allowed the Longhorns to build a commanding double-digit margin at 42-29 entering the fourth quarter.
The teams traded shots over the opening moments of the final stanza, as Johnson County maintained a dozen-point lead at 50-38. Cloudland rallied, however, in a big way. Bentley Gilbert and Sluder hit a pair of back-to-back three-pointers, while Gilbert added another bucket to close the game to four points with just less than three minutes remaining in the contest.
Blair and Gilbert came up large again in the closing minutes to power Cloudland past the Longhorns, while the ‘Landers defense refused to give up an easy look at the basket on defense to help secure the victory.
Gilbert scored 23 points to lead Cloudland, including the final six points for the team down the stretch. Sluder finished with 14 points, while Victor Hicks also reached double figures scoring with 11 points. Blair chipped in with eight points for the ‘Landers.
Jackson Earnhart scored 17 points to lead Johnson County, while Clayton Cross scored 10 points.