By Tim Chambers
Trying to watch the Lady Longhorns against Elizabethton was like trying to watch a NASCAR race. Johnson County sputtered around the track for 18 minutes before getting its engine running smoothly.
The best car on the track in the second half finally ran out of gas at the end which spoiled a remarkable comeback attempt. Johnson County fell to the Lady Cyclones 70-59 after trailing by 30 with 6:17 remaining in the third quarter.
Johnson County’s head coach Leon Tolley summed up the game’s roller coaster ride as best as he could.
“Coach Lucas Andrews had Elizabethton motivated for a little revenge and for the second straight game we shied away from the physicality when push came to shove,” said Tolley. “We knew they would come out ready to play and they did. When we got behind and got in our comfort zone we started to play. We then started to extend our pressure and they helped us out with some turnovers and we made shots. When we get going a little bit, we’re not bad, but when one team takes it to us then we can’t handle that aggressiveness at this point. It’s very frustrating.”
Frustrating first half for Johnson County
The frustration started after Emmy Miller had put the Horns in front 2-0 on their first possession.
Elizabethton began to hammer down getting a 3-point play from Kaylen Shell that gave them a 12-6 advantage at the 3:27 mark. From there they closed the period on a 10-4 run including a three-ball at the buzzer by Kelsie Winters.
Johnson County trailed 22-10 after one.
The Lady Longhorns struggled to value possession in the second quarter, turning the ball over six times at one point in a three-minute span. The Cyclones outscored them 19-9 in the quarter and led by a comfortable 41-19 margin at the half.
Elizabethton picked up where they left off by going on a 9-1 run to start the third quarter. Destiny Little’s three-point play gave them a 50-20 lead with 6:17 remaining, but the Longhorns would somehow flip the switch from there.
Natalie Winters started an 8-0 run with a basket, then Adrian Hall drained a trey, followed by a three-point play from Taylor Cox. They got within 17 on Abby Cornett’s steal and layup late in the quarter and trailed 54-37 heading into the fourth.
‘Betsy’s large lead continued to shrink as the Horns kept whittling away at the deficit. Baskets by Taylor Parsons and Winters cut it to a baker’s dozen and a three-point play from Sadie Stout made it 54-44 with 6:15 remaining in the game.
The Cyclones moved back in front by 13 but a three-ball by Hall and her two free throws cut what once was a 30-point deficit down to eight at 60-52 with 3:05 remaining.
Elizabethton was able to extend the lead back to 12 with a pair of baskets by Cora Korbin late in the game. The Longhorns got it back under 10 one last time on Hall’s third trey of the game but couldn’t get any closer. They simply just ran out of gas.
Johnson County was led by Hall (11 points, 4 steals) and Cox (11 points, 6 rebounds). Courtney Brooks finished with nine points. Sadie Stout contributed eight points. Taylor Parsons led the team in rebounding with eight and added six points. Natalie Winters and Emmy Miller each had five points.
Koroma had a game high 17 points for Elizabethton. Little added 16 points and seven rebounds. Shell tallied 12 points and four steals.
Johnson County is now fifth in league play at 2-4. They’ll play at Unicoi County on Friday in an all important conference matchup.
Elizabethton 70, Johnson County 59
JOHNSON CO. (59)
Hall 11, Cox 11, C. Brooks 9, Stout 8, Winters 5, E. Miller 5, Cornett 2, Kleine 1.
Koroma 17, Little 16, Shell 12, Townsend 6, Winters 6, Headrick 6, Miller 7
Johnson Co. 10 9 18 21 — 59
Elizabethton 22 19 13 16 — 70
3-point goals—JC 3 (Hall 3) Eliz 6 (Winters 2, Little 2, Miller 1, Roberts 1)