The Lady Longhorns finished up their Johnson City Honda Tournament Run at Daniel Boone High School facing off against a very familiar local rival, the Hampton Lady Bulldogs. With Monica Olivera out of town for the holidays and Paige Montgomery on the injured list, two of Hamptons biggest guns were off the court, giving Johnson County a rare opportunity to pull out a win that would have made recent history for the program. Yet, with players like Hannah and Caitlin Irick still in the game and landing multiple three pointers, a Johnson County victory simply didnt seem to be in the cards.
I thought our effort was better, said Head Coach Todd Whittemore. All of our girls like each other, but then they get out on the floor and theyre not talking and communicating with each other. Its very frustrating because weve got good players but theyre letting opportunities slip by us that we should be taking advantage of.
Hampton started off the game with a long-range shot and even with Kourtney Tolley taking up some of the early slack with a shot of her own, the Bulldogs refused to give up control of the game. Another three and a layup pushed the lead to 2-8, but the Lady Longhorns werent ready to give up yet either. Tolley landed another basket and this time was followed up quickly with shots from Brooke Brown and Brionna Reece to even the playing field at eight. Hampton got a plus one off a foul to climb to 11 and another quick layup to land at 13. The lead kept climbing two more baskets, only answered by a single foul shot from Reece to close the first 9-18.
Freshman Michala Cretsinger pushed Johnson County into double digits with the first shot of the second quarter, but then the Lady Longhorns went into a lag where they didnt score at all until the last two minutes before the half. Junior Gianna Lay broke the dry spell with a single free throw from the foul line and was followed up with a couple of baskets by Brooke Brown, but with only eight points in the whole quarter it was very tough to keep up with the Lady Bulldogs.
Were still not making free throws, lamented Whittemore. Thats a little thing that would help us out a bunch. It ruins our confidence early in the game when we miss five of our six free throws.
Trailing 17-32 at the half, Kourtney Tolley came into the third early with a shot that pushed Johnson County to 19 only to turn around with another basket to land at 21. Sophomore Amanda Potter came in with a couple of good rebounds that seemed to put the Lady Longhorns on a roll and cutting the lead to 10. Hampton managed a couple of last minute advances to finish up ahead by 12 at 30-42, but with a full quarter still left there was hope for a final turn around. The offensive lag from the second quarter was back in the fourth, and as Whittemore pointed out, a slow finished proved very costly.
It was a great opportunity but we let it slip by, Whittemore said. We didnt play very smart. We tried to get back in it here. We cut it to ten, called a time out and then we came out and turned it over twice, threw the ball away to them once and the other time they jumped it and were down 13 again.
Brooke Brown landed a basket to kick off the beginning of the fourth, but Johnson County was stuck at 32 all the way down to the last minute, giving Hampton ample time to reach all the way into the 50s and easily secure their win. Cretsinger got the last bucket of the night to finish up with 38, but Coach Whittemore was obviously not very happy with the final overall results.
Its not easy being the coach of this team right but were not going to quit, Whittemore concluded. If theyll just keep working thats all I know. When times get tough you keep a positive attitude and you work your tail off. Thats what were going to do together. Were going to try to get better defensively. Were not going to give up.