Johnson Central outlasts Raiders in 2 extra sessions
by STEVE LeMASTER
PAINTSVILLE - Many expected Friday night's South Floyd-Johnson Central game to be close, but not too many people called for a double-overtime game. In the first game of the season for both teams, a winner couldn't be decided in even just one overtime. Host Johnson Central, which had the luxury of clinging to some sort of lead for most of the regulation, finally outlasted South Floyd in a second overtime period, winning 81-79.
Following the win, players, coaches and fans were drained. The game had the feel of a regional tournament contest with the atmosphere screaming that the high school basketball season, had, indeed, arrived.
"It was a great win for us," said Johnson Central Coach Les Trimble. "What a first game! Our kids played hard and so did theirs."
Three different Johnson Central players scored over 20 points in the victory. Senior Josh Stapleton led Johnson Central in scoring with 24 points, Tony Hatfield and Jamie McCarty, only a sophomore, each had 22 points.
McCarty, no doubt one of the 15th Region's top players, got Johnson Central going in the first half when he threw down a dunk.
Junior guard Ryan Johnson led South Floyd in scoring with 25 points.
Johnson Central's lead went up and down throughout the first half and much of the second half as visiting South Floyd answered with various rallies, cutting Johnson Central's momentum down each time.
The Golden Eagles led 22-16 at the end of the first period and took a took a 39-32 lead into halftime. South Floyd trailed by five points at the end of the third quarter before outscoring Johnson Central 19-14 in the final quarter of regulation.
South Floyd junior Mason Hall hit a thrilling three-point shot that helped to extend the game for the Raiders.
The game ended regulation deadlocked at 63. Each team scored seven points in the first overtime.
South Floyd and Johnson played twice during the 2003-04 season with each team winning once on the other squad's home hardwood.
Johnson Central senior guard Nick Music went out early on in Friday's game, but not before he scored five points. An update on Music's injury was unavailable at press time.
Tyler Whitaker added five points for Johnson Central, while Ryan Fannin and Justin Blanton added two apiece.
During the latest meeting between the two 15th Region teams, who have become rivals, South Floyd seniors Steven Stanley and Burnett Little, the big men inside for the Raiders, scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. Ethan Johnson also had 11 points. Wes Hall chipped in nine points and Ryan Little flipped in four.
Johnson Central was back in action last night, playing on the road at Betsy Layne. South Floyd was on the road at Neon. Results from both games were unavailable at press time.
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