After losing to Cloudland because of a poor first quarter showing, the Lady Longhorns were able to display much more consistency against the visiting Lady Cyclones. Although Johnson County played much better overall, the level of competition coming out of Elizabethton was also much higher, resulting in yet another narrow defeat.
An early first quarter lag gave Johnson County fans cause for concern, but starting with a bucket from Brooke Brown a couple of minutes in, the Lady Longhorns put up a huge fight that on several occasions left them within one bucket of the lead. Brown along with Sarah Swift carried the team through the first period, going toe to toe against identical twins, ? & ? Marisites. Amazingly talented for freshmen players, the twins are well known for working together and getting some very difficult shots.
I think Coach Dugger does a really good job of not really caring what grade theyre in, said Head Coach Todd Whittemore. Hes going to put the five on the floor that he thinks is going to get the job done and play together very well. One of the sisters had two in the third and two in the fourth and thats really stepping up for a freshman. They do a great job and he puts them in great positions. For a freshman to come through and hit four threes all in the second half, thats a lot of confidence for that freshman. Unfortunately, Im not looking forward to playing against her or her sister for the next few years.
Even against possibly the toughest team in the Three Rivers Conference, the Lady Longhorns were more than capable of keeping pace. Making the first shot of the second quarter, Brionna Reece was able to bring her team within two points of a tie at 15-17, and with a follow up foul cut it to just one point at 16. The Lady Cyclones were able to stay one step ahead with a bucket of their own, but a visibly frustrated Coach Dugger was doing every thing he could to ensure his team did not fall behind. Fouls took center stage in the last minutes before the half, with some of Elizabethtons key starters like Whitney Roberts gaining their second and third against them. This was the case for the Lady Longhorns as well, ultimately resulting in a foul out for Brandy Dugger late in the game.
A final open shot from Kristin Roark with just two minutes on the clock finally put the Lady Longhorns in a tie with the Cyclones at 26, but a couple of late fouls left Elizabethton in control at the buzzer. Johnson County still seemed confident coming back from the half, but a string of bad luck in the first four minutes cost the Lady Longhorns dearly. With four buckets in a row and two of fourth, and with the odds now in their favor began pushing their advantage.
Brooke Brown in particular fought hard to counteract Elizabethtons offense, making several strong drives to the goal, but with several missed rebounds and little defensive action, Johnson County stalled at 39 throughout the first half of the fourth quarter. The Lady Cyclones lead grew to nearly 20, but even then Johnson County fought back, cutting the score to just nine thanks to buckets from Kourtney Tolley, Mary Taylor, and Sarah Swift.
Elizabethton was quick to push the lead back up to 11, but with only a minute on the clock, Johnson County put up one last big struggle, culminating in a three pointer by Brooke Brown that cut the lead back to eight. Despite the effort, time began to run out on the Lady Longhorns and like so many games before the Lady Cyclones went to holding the ball and forcing Johnson County to foul. As a result, Elizabethton was able to put up six more free throws in the last 20 seconds of the game, ending in a 52-66 win.
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