By Tim Chambers
BLOUNTVILLE—Johnson County traveled to Blountville on Friday to try and knock off undefeated Sullivan Central (13-0), who was coming off a win over Class AAA power Dobyns-Bennett. Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain as the Cougars run, and gun-offense was too much for the Lady Longhorns to overcome.
The Lady Cougars beat the Longhorns back down the floor time, and time again that resulted in easy layups for the home team that led to 29 first-quarter points and 55 by halftime.
Central shot a torrid 12-of-15-from the field in the first quarter and 22-of-32 by halftime time that led to the 55-23 lead that propelled them to a 77-43 victory in Three Rivers Conference play inside the Dickie Warren Dome at Sullivan Central.
At one point, the Cougars shot ten consecutive layups in breakaway fashion while the Longhorns tried to stay in the game behind the stellar play of sophomore Sadie Stout, who scored 12 of their 23 first-half points. Stout swished a three-ball to end the first quarter then got loose for two breakaway buckets early in the second, but Central answered with a couple of baskets in the paint by their 6’2 center Wofford University signee Abbey Crawford.
The Lady Cougars got a long late trifecta from sharpshooting guard Katie Hone at the end of one that kept the momentum swung in their favor. They outscored the Horns 26-9 in the second stanza to increase their mammoth advantage.
Central led 55-23 at the half after missing only ten shots from the field as most of them were taken at a short or point-blank range. Peyton Sams dished out six assists in the first half for the Lady Cougars.
The Cougars had 15 assists in the first half.
“I knew we were fighting an uphill battle having as many players sick as we did, but I did think that we would make a better account of ourselves than what we did,” said head coach Leon Tolley. “We talked about transition defense, and the worst part about that is it doesn’t take any talent to play that, but we couldn’t get back fast enough to prevent them from scoring. Every player that we had out there wasn’t sick, so the ones that weren’t sick didn’t hold up their end. Our biggest problem right now is we don’t come ready to play at times, and you can’t get down 15 or 20 points when you play these good teams. In my opinion, Central is the best team in the area, and I told our girls this is the measuring stick for our conference this year. Even if we weren’t sick, we would have to play a near-perfect game and get a lot of breaks to play with them. I told our girls not to feel sorry for them. They had played three times this week too, and one of those was against D-B. We’ve got to get better and tougher against this type of team.
Central continued to pour it on by outscoring the Lady Longhorns 16-7 in the third quarter to go up 71-30 heading into the final period. That would be the only quarter that Johnson County would win by outscoring the Lady Cougars 13-7.
Aside from Crawford Sams led the way with 11 assists and 11 points. She also had four steals to show her team value. The senior has already signed to play with UVA-Wise next season.
Sams led the way with 11 assists, despite retiring for the night late in the third quarter. The UVA-Wise signee also had 11 points, four steals, and three rebounds. Crawford had a game-high 19 points for Central while twin tower counterpart McClellan added 15 with many of those coming from inside the paint.
Taylor Cox led the Lady Longhorns with 13 points and six rebounds while Stout finished with 12 all in the first half. Abby Cornett came off the bench to contribute six points. Natalie Winters added five assists, three steals, and five rebounds.
The Lady Longhorns won’t play again until January 2 when they travel to Damascus to take on Holston in a girls-only contest.
JOHNSON COUNTY (43) – Taylor Parsons 1 2-2 4, Natalie Winters 0 2-2 2, Taylor Cox 6 0-0 13, Hazlee Kleine 1 0-0 2, Sadie Stout 5 1-2 12, Emmy Miller 1 0-0 2, Rhiannon Icenhour 0 0-0 0, Abby Cornett 2 0-0 6, Abby Lifford 0 0-0 0, Tiffany Price 0 0-0 0, Totals 16 5-6 43.
SULLIVAN CENTRAL (77) – Peyton Sams 4 2-2 11, Jaelyn West 3 2-4 9, Avery Leming 1 0-0 3, Macy McClellan 7 0-0 15, Abbey Crawford 9 1-1 19, Emma Neibreugge 2 0-0 5, Marleigh Pendleton 0 0-0 0, Parker Hurd 1 0-0 2, Allison Lambert 0 2-2 2, Naomi Morales 2 1-3 5, Katie Horne 2 0-0 6, Kylie Harrison 0 0-0 0, Totals 31 8-12 77.