By Tim Chambers
ELIZABETHTON—It was a perfect example of snatching a win out of the jaws of defeat. Johnson County’s 67-63 overtime victory over Happy Valley in the girls’ game appeared impossible with 1:03 remaining in regulation.
They trailed 54-49 but got a huge lift off the bench from sophomore Abby Cornett. She swished a three-pointer with 48 seconds remaining to cut the deficit at 54-52, but Happy Valley would add a pair of free throws by Adrienne Henegar to go back up by four at the 36 second mark.
Cornett got them within two at 54-52 with a nice drive to the hoop but they still needed another possession. The Warriors missed two free throws allowing the Horns a chance to tie.
Adrian Hall drove to the basket and made a nice feed to Courtney Brooks who converted with the left hand for the game-tying basket, sending the game into overtime at 56 all.
“I drove to baseline looking to shoot but I saw Courtney open on the block and gave it up,” said Hall. “She made a great shot and so did Abby. This was a great win and it shows everyone how hard we worked. We played hard for our assistant coaches and Coach Tolley. We missed him being on the bench with us.”
That type of team-before-self attitude carried over into the overtime period because the “cardiac kids” took over from there.
They outscored the Warriors 11-7 in the extra period led by sophomore point guard Natalie Winters and another big three-ball from Cornett.
The game wasn’t pretty but the final result was a thing of beauty.
The Lady Longhorns got a well-balanced scoring attack from a sextet of players led by Courtney Brooks.
The senior guard blistered the nets for 20 points, dished out four assists and added three steals. She thinks this type of game could be a positive for them going into the tournament.
“This was a huge win because it’s one that could help turn our season around with three conference games remaining,” said Brooks. “We all stepped up tonight on the road and took good shots. We didn’t want to let it slip away once we got the game into overtime. I thought they got frustrated in overtime after we tied it.”
Cornett provided 11 points, all coming in the fourth quarter and overtime period. Miller scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to complete her double-double before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Winters collected 10 points including four clutch-free throws in the overtime period. Parsons led the game in rebounding with 14 and scored eight points. Hall amassed a game high seven assists, scored eight points and had five rebounds.
“We all wanted to win because our mentality was to go out here and take this game,” said Parsons. “We wanted to verify that win we had at home against them and this game did that. We talked about winning for Coach Tolley on the bus ride down here. We couldn’t wait to give him a phone call after the game and let him know that we won.”
Johnson County outrebounded the Lady Warriors 39-16 including 16 on the offensive end. They also accounted for 18 assists as a team.
Henegar blistered the nets for 30 points, connecting on eight treys to lead Happy Valley. Green provided 14 points and Tiana Long tallied nine.
The Longhorns were without head coach Leon Tolley who was out sick with flu symptoms. Assistant coach Kechia Eller and Garry Smith took the leadership role in his absence.
Eller felt like the game boiled down to consistency.
“Our effort hasn’t been consistent all season but tonight they showed up and played all four quarters,” said Eller. “That enabled us to stay in the game and play the way we did in the overtime period. The bottom line was they wanted to win the game for Coach Tolley because he means so much to them. We got great play from Abby off the bench and our five starters played phenomenally. This win is something that we can build on.”
Johnson County 67,
Happy Valley 63 (Overtime)
JOHNSON COUNTY (67)
C. Brooks 20, Winters 10, Miller 10, Hall 8, Parsons 8, Cornett 11, Stout 0,
HAPPY VALLEY (63)
Henegar 30, Green 14, Long 9, Roberts 7, Absher 3
Johnson Co. 10 19 11 16 11 — 67
Happy Valley 11 7 14 21 7 — 63
3-point goals—JC 3 (Hall 2, Brooks 1) HV 8 (Henegar 8)