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Girls' basketball wins one, loses on in season opener

The Lady Longhorn basketball team kicked off their season with a bang, playing a back-to-back double header in Jonesborough against the David Crockett Lady Pioneers and the Daniel Boone Lady Trail Blazers. The first round against Crockett proved to be a surprisingly strong success with a huge 50-37 win. Senior point guard Brooke Brown was the top scorer with 22 points to her credit, but several other teammates including Mary Taylor, Kourtney Tolley, and Brionna Reece lacked just one bucket of being in double digits themselves.
One of the most surprising showings was the strong defense displayed by sophomore Amanda Potter who racked up rebound after rebound, an even more profound observation considering the challenges she has faced over the past year. “We’re not very deep right now,” said Head Coach Todd Whittemore. “We’ve got to be careful not to get any injuries but I’m liking our pieces of the puzzle. Amanda Potter really rebounded today. In the first game she probably had 15 boards. I thought she really held her own. She was a force and that’s with her coming off major knee surgery. She’s never played Varsity, and now she’s starting and she’s what we need. We need someone big and strong to anchor in our defense and she was that anchor today.”
Johnson County trailed 10-14 by the end of the first quarter but had managed to take back control by the half 26-22. Shifting the momentum in their favor the Lady Horns went on to dominate the second half outscoring Crockett slightly in the third and by nearly ten points in the fourth to bring in a solid 50-37 victory.
Things changed drastically at the beginning of the second game against Daniel Boone, but even falling behind 5-13 early on, Johnson County still fought back and ultimately took the lead at halftime. That turn around was largely due to the efforts of Brionna Reece who had a solid showing at the free throw line combined with a couple of critical buckets right at the net. Combined with foul shots by Gianna Lay and Mary Taylor, the Longhorns trailed by just one point, 14-15, midway through the second quarter.
Before the half Boone went on a run that gave them 19, but with two critical back to back three pointers from Brooke Brown, the second of which ended up being a mid court buzzer buster, Johnson County came into the third ahead with 20. The Lady Blazers ended up going on to have a big third quarter that saw them take back the lead and pull ahead by five, but considering Boone’s strong regional reputation in basketball, Coach Whittemore was still happy with his team’s effort.

“I’m proud of our girls,” Whittemore said. “I’m not satisfied but I’m very proud. After the way we didn’t show up like we wanted to on Thursday night, one day of practice and we came out today we rebounded, we played tough, we out hustled Crockett in the first game and hustled at least as tough as Daniel Boone did in the second game. We were getting on the score. We didn’t do that the other night. Boone is going to do well in the big nine this year just based on their style. They press you every chance they get all the time. I was pleasantly surprised to see how we handled the pressure. That has been the soft spot for us since I’ve been here but today overall we really handled the pressure.”
In fact, even when Boone did press, Johnson County’s defense still managed to slow the pace. Even in the third quarter most of Boone’s buckets were dropped in the last couple of minutes on the clock, with the whole first half of the period deadlocked 20-24. A bucket from Kourtney Tolley left Johnson County fans hoping for a turn around, but a series of long baskets in the last minute before the fourth pushed Boone all the way into the low thirties.
Even then Johnson County didn’t give up, picking up several foul shots along with buckets from Brooke Brown to eventually end up just three points shy of the win at 32-35. With a little more time the Lady Longhorns might even have been able to pull out a second win, a remarkable fact considering their opponent and the lack of any break between the two games.
“They played and passed so well,” Whittemore said after the game. “We did a good job on our free throws overall. The first game against Crockett each quarter we did better and better. In the second one I felt like we got a little tired but we were playing two games back to back with just six girls. To have some errors that may be caused by being tired that’s okay this early in the year. That’s expected. Brooke wasn’t our only guard today. Mary and Kourtney were there, and Reece helped out some too. I think Mary and Kourtney did a great job today helping Brooke out. I know Kourtney had a couple turnovers but she’s getting better and better and she wants the ball, she wants to help us out. I was very pleased. Today was so fun. It was so fun to coach them today.”

Final Scores:
Johnson County 50,
David Crockett 37
Brooke Brown 22
Brionna Reece 8
Kourtney Tolley 8
Mary Taylor 8
Amanda Potter 4

Johnson County 32,
Daniel Boone 35
Brooke Brown 12
Brionna Reece 9
Kourtney Tolley 5
Mary Taylor 3
Amanda Potter 2