Lady Longhorns defeat Sullivan South, secure first regional berth in decades.
By Tim Chambers
BLUFF CITY—Two decades plus is a very long time to go without making the regional tournament. Johnson County made history by ending the drought on Friday night with a 48-29 victory over Sullivan South in the quarterfinals of the District 1-AA basketball tournament played inside the Dyer Dome at Sullivan East High School.
The Horns (22-10) rode the play of senior Taylor Cox and junior guard Sadie Stout to victory and a stingy defense that limited the Lady Rebels to only one field goal in the third quarter.
Stout finished the game with 15 points, many of those clutched ones when the Horns were having trouble scoring. Cox led the way with a team-high 17 points with 12 of those coming in the final quarter when they were going down the home stretch.
That offset the 16 points tossed in by South’s Alexis Harris, who tallied over half of her team’s total points.
“We worked our butts off to get here,” said Stout. “We put in the blood, sweat, and tears. We put our whole lives into this sport. We worked our butts off, and we really deserve to be here.”
There was no talk about top-seed Sullivan Central (27-2) their next opponent, although head coach Leon Tolley made a reference.
“I hope we’re not satisfied,” said Tolley. “We still got three more games left and maybe more. We can’t be satisfied with just getting here. I hope people will remember these girls for what they did. It’s all about them.”
The other semifinalists are Elizabethton (18-10) and Sullivan East (20-10), who met in the other semi-final contest on Saturday. Things didn’t look good in the early going as South shot the ball well over the first four minutes of the game. They built up a 12-4 advantage before Johnson County came roaring back to take their first lead of the game at 16-15 with 4:36 remaining before halftime.
It was pretty much all Lady Longhorns from that point after they turned up the defense. Natalie Winters came up with a steal that resulted in Sadie Stout’s three-point play that made it 19-16 at the 4:23 mark. The Horns managed to take a slim 20-19 lead into the locker room at halftime and held Stout to only one field goal during the third quarter.
The Horns jacked their lead up to 34-19 heading into the final frame, and Cox made sure it stayed that way by scoring nine straight points during one stretch run. The girls also won the rebounding battle with Emmy Miller, Taylor Parsons, and Cox collecting eight apiece. Winters contributed four steals and four assists. Johnson County maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half and was never threatened.
SULLIVAN SOUTH (29)
Littleton 6, Harris 16, Compton 4, Jordan 3.
JOHNSON COUNTY (48)
Miller 5, Parsons 4, Cornett 3, Winters 1, Cox 17, Kleine 3, Stout 15.
Sullivan S. 14 5 0 10 -29
JCHS 10 10 14 14 -48
3-point goals—South 3 (Harris 2, Jordan), Johnson County 5 (Stout 3, Cox, Cornett).