By Tim Chambers
ERWIN—The Lady Longhorns were facing a tall task trying to stop a much taller Unicoi County squad without its two starting post players, Taylor Parsons and Emmy Miller. Their absence was felt early and often.
The Blue Devils collected 15 offensive rebounds including eight that led to easy baskets during the first half that propelled them to a 64-35 win on Friday night at Unicoi County.
It was a step backward for Johnson County who had played well for three quarters at Dobyns-Bennett on Monday.
Head coach Leon Tolley knew they might struggle size wise but was disappointed with their effort as a whole.
“Their size did play a factor but what disappointed me was we had all our guards and turned it over several times,” said Tolley. “If we hadn’t done that it would have been a ball game. We let Unicoi get in their comfort zone and I don’t know if we felt sorry for ourselves because Emmy and Taylor were out. As well as we played at Dobyns-Bennett with all that effort, we just didn’t bring it tonight. We can’t use them not being here as an excuse. We knew we would struggle on the boards but we did other things poorly too.”
Unicoi County jumped on top 18-7 after one thanks to its 6’0 center Kaitlyn Bailey. She scored 10 points in the frame with eight coming off offensive rebounds. Allee Griffith had another putback but it got worse.
Bailey rang up 16 first-half points and 10 rebounds. A dozen of those were second chance points.
Abby Cornett had five first-half points for the Horns but they trailed 30-15 at intermission.
Things didn’t get any better for Johnson after halftime. The Blue Devils put together a 20-5 run to go up 50-20 late in the third quarter.
Taylor Cox ended the streak with a long three but the game was well on ice by then.
Cox was the lone bright spot for the Lady Longhorns. She came off the bench to score 12 points, three steals and collect a team high eight rebounds. Cornett collected five while Natalie Winters, Brittney Brooks and Sadie Stout collected four points each.
Bailey topped the Blue Devils with 19 and 13 rebounds. Tealey Holt provided 13 points, Haley Padgett 12 and Griffith 11 giving Unicoi four players in double figures.
This game film might be tossed in file 13 but Tolley wants them to learn from it.
“Little things like moving someone over a spot and the different rotations we had got them out of their comfort zone,” added Tolley. “We also had people who had shots but they wouldn’t shoot the ball. I told our kids to forget about it and get ready for Sullivan Central on Tuesday. It doesn’t matter if we have those girls back or not. We have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball.”
Johnson County 39
Unicoi County 31
The Lady Longhorns built up a sizeable lead then held on in the fourth quarter to defeat Unicoi.
Taylor Cox led the Horns with 10 points while Rhiannon Icenhour added eight. Sadie Stout helped the cause with six points and Abby Cornett tallied five. Adrian Hall and Natalie Winters scored four points each. Hazlee Kleine closed out the scoring with two.
Tealey Holt tossed in a game high 20 points for the Lady Blue Devils.
Unicoi County 64, Johnson County 35
JOHNSON CO. (35)
Cox 12, Cornett 5, Winters 4, Stout 4, Kleine 2, C. Brooks 1, B. Brooks 4, Nichols 2, Hall 0, Peele 0.
UNICOI CO. (64)
Bailey 19, Holt 13, Padgett 12, Griffith 11, Powers 4, Headrickson 3, Edney 2.
Johnson Co 7 8 8 12 — 35
Unicoi Co. 18 12 21 12 — 64
3-point goals—JC 2 (Cox 1, Cornett 1) UC 3 (Holt 2, Powers 1)