Lady Horns squeak by with one point over Sevier
By Jonathan PleasantWith one win and two close losses behind them, the Lady Longhorns made every effort to close out their tournament run at Daniel Boone High School on a good note. While things didn’t look too favorable as Johnson County first took to the court against the Sevier County Bearettes, a slow first half soon gave way to one of the closest games the Longhorns have played yet. Miraculously this time Johnson County came out on top.
“We got behind early,” said Head Coach Todd Whittemore. “I thought the first half was just slow and boring and not fun to watch. The third quarter we kind of started to fight back a little bit, but we changed our defense. That big girl was hurting us. We had something we’ve been working on. We put it in there and it worked. It completely changed the game for us.”
With 25 points to her credit, Sevier County’s number 32 was obviously the Bearettes key player, quickly making her the Lady Longhorn’s central target. According to Whittemore, “We need things that we can throw at people that give us an advantage. I thought our girls did a good job of double teaming number 32. We fouled out the big girl at Volunteer a couple weeks ago but we didn’t take advantage of it and we still lost the game. We fouled out their best player tonight and we took advantage of it. Our team is getting better, we weren’t afraid to win.”
Even with 32 making many of the Bearettes buckets in the first half, Johnson County was still able to keep up with their opponents, holding control of the scoreboard for the entire first quarter thanks to a strong effort by Brooke Brown and Brionna Reece on the offense and an impressive defensive showing by Brandy Dugger that helped to keep Sevier County to just two points for the whole first half of the first period.
A very physical player, Dugger has run into foul trouble in the past, but did surprisingly well in this game at applying pressure without sending her opponent to the foul line. “I was just afraid I was going to foul out there at the end,” Dugger said. “But I ended up with just one. The only problem is that I was doing well on my free throws but now I’m not. Now it’s just the opposite, I’m doing well on my fouls and not my free throws and I really need both.”
Dugger wasn’t the only player to have trouble at the foul line, and by half time a 12-11 lead had turned into a 10-point lag. Sevier County took over early in the second and it appeared as though they were going into a run that would be very difficult for Johnson County to overcome. With four baskets, Brown helped her team stay within reach up to the last three minutes before the half, but beginning with a critical three point shot the Bearettes jumped from 22-25, to 22-32 in just under a minute of game time.
Things began to change in the third quarter, with Johnson County cutting the lead to just five at 34-39 and coming into the fourth ready to fight. Number 32 got her final foul halfway through the last quarter and seizing the advantage, Johnson County began to press forward on the board. At 38-42, fouls became critical and with three chances in a row to make free throws, Sevier County’s coach made a critical error.
Holding his team to the sideline just after yet another foul was called against them, Sevier County’s Coach actually received a technical for delay of game. Choosing Brooke Brown to make the shots, the game tied up at 42 with just under 3 minutes on the clock. A Sevier three pointer immediately after the technical seemed a bad omen, but Brown was able to bring it back within one at 44-45.
Time started to become a serious issue as the clock dropped under one minute, but in an exciting display of skill Brown was able to steal the ball only to gain a foul and a couple of foul shots to turn the tables and put her team one point ahead at 46-45.With fans on the edge of their seat, the game saw two final fouls. The first was against Johnson County and with just 23 seconds on the clock put the score at 46-47. Yet, with the Lady Longhorns back in possession the last foul was exactly what Johnson County wanted.
The clock stopped at 16 seconds and the pressure was on Brooke Brown to come through one last time. As the first shot went in, Johnson County fans cheered with elation while Sevier County’s sidelines only grew more restless. Taking her last shot, the tension in the gym was palatable, but with a sigh of relief Brown got her second point, putting her team just one point ahead and securing their win.
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