Golden Eagles Tame Bobcats, Advance to 15th Region Finals Against Paintsville

Johnson Central withstood an early deficit before coming back and pulling away from Betsy Layne 72-55 in the 15th Region semifinals at the Appalachian Wireless Arena. Johnson Central (21-3) advances to Saturday’s region championship game against crosstown rival Paintsville at 7:30 p.m. The Golden Eagles were once again led by Cory VanHoose in scoring with 21 points. VanHoose, a senior guard/forward combo, is looking to give his school its first win over Paintsville in the 15th Region finals. The two schools have met in the title game in 1985 and 2008 with Paintsville coming out on top in both contests. Tommy McKenzie has propelled the Golden Eagles to consistent success since taking over the head coaching reigns at Johnson Central. McKenzie, Johnson Central’s head coach since the 2007-08 season, has now led the Golden Eagles to 11 region championship games and will be seeking his 6th trip to the Sweet 16. If Johnson Central is to advance, the Golden Eagles will need another brilliant performance from VanHoose and his teammates as well as taking care of the ball like they did against Betsy Layne. VanHoose hauled in 10 rebounds to complete a double-double performance in the semifinals as well as dishing out four assists and forcing four turnovers. Isaiah May and Ryleh McKenzie joined VanHoose in double-digit scoring. Johnson Central committed just eight turnovers on the night while forcing 18 from the Bobcats. Betsy Layne (13-9) shot just 35.4 percent from the field including a 5-for-15 performance from beyond the arc. The Bobcats were without Jordan Frazier, the team’s leading scorer, during the postseason. Brady Robinson, who was the Betsy Layne’s second leading scorer with an average of 20 points per game, did all he could to keep his team in the game with 18 points and five rebounds, but the lack of another go-to scorer eventually did the Bobcats in against Johnson Central. Chase Mims (12) and Byron Tackett (11) were the team’s other double-digit scorers. Johnson Central easily won the points in the paint battle by a 40-24 margin as well as a 19-15 advantage in second chance points despite being outrebounded 37-30.    

Conner Lemaster sinks a three. Photo Courtesy of Golden Eagle Network


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