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Patriots hit 14 3s, dial up defense to top Longhorns

By Pat Kenney, Sports Correspondent • Jan 11, 2020 at 2:55 AM

BLUFF CITY — Sullivan East mixed in a healthy dose of defense to go with its normal explosive offense and cooked up a 76-52 Three Rivers Conference boys basketball win over Johnson County at the Patriot Palace on Friday night.

The Patriots (8-10, 3-1) held the Longhorns to just one basket in both the second and fourth quarters and outscored them 47-18 over those two stanzas.

“When we are committed to defense, good things happen,” said East coach John Dyer. “Our defense makes our offense go.”

And how.

East trailed 19-15 after the opening period, but in the second quarter the Patriots hit six 3-pointers and raced out to a 40-28 lead by halftime.

Johnson County (7-13, 1-4) managed to cut the deficit to 56-45 early in the fourth quarter — only to see East hit four 3-pointers in a row and swell the advantage to 68-45.

“They just wore us down,” said Longhorns coach Austin Atwood. “We were only playing about six guys and Coach Dyer is smart. He just kept throwing guys at us.

“And when they shoot like that, they are very, very dangerous.”

The Patriots hit 14 3-pointers overall, and Ethan Bradford accounted for seven of them. Bradford and Dylan Bartley led East with 24 points apiece.

“Eric Hare was a spark for us in the second half,” Dyer noted. “He made the tough plays that got us going and helped us earn a great conference victory.”

Lucas Phillips had 20 points and Clayton Cross 14 for the Longhorns.

LADY PATRIOTS PREVAIL

The Lady Patriots (11-8, 3-1) had to rally twice in the fourth quarter to finally subdue the determined Lady Longhorns 59-56.

With the score tied at 47, East went on a 6-0 run to build a little cushion. But Johnson County’s Taylor Cox hit a 3-pointer with less than 40 seconds to go to pull the Lady ’Horns to within three points 53-50.

The Lady Patriots then hit 6 of 8 free throws down the stretch and held on for the win.

“We didn’t play our best tonight, but we played hard,” said East coach Allan Aubrey. “We didn’t play smart, but we did make some tough plays in the second half that made the difference.”

Jenna Hare led the Lady Patriots with 18 points. Hayley Grubb added 14 and Riley Nelson 10.

Cox led Johnson County (9-7, 0-5) with 19 points and Abby Cornett had 11.