By Tim Chambers
ERWIN— Johnson County looked like a team that was ready to pull off a possible upset, but their shot selection after the first four minutes dug them a hole that they never would get out of. The Warriors took advantage of some Longhorn miscues and won handily 79-41 in the first round of the District 1-AA girls’ tournament played at Unicoi County High School.
It was classic basketball played by the Horns in the early going. A pair of baskets by Courtney Brooks tied the game at four-all and two more buckets from Britain Peele whittled a six-point deficit to 11-9 at the midway mark.
From that point it was all Warriors.
They led 19-12 after one and proceeded to go on a 16-3 run that extended their advantage at 35-15. During the run Johnson County made only 1-of-11 shots and four never hit the rim.
Happy Valley held a 20-point advantage at the half. Head coach Larry Abel said the play was to step it up on defense.
“We turned up the defensive pressure and forced them to take some bad shots,” said Abel. “We were a little sloppy on our offensive execution but our defense allowed us to get some easy baskets.”
Abel was correct on his assessment to a tee.
Time after time the Warriors worked the ball and got shots inside the paint or were able to penetrate and kick it back out for wide-open threes. That wasn’t the case for the Longhorns.
They began the third quarter on a 7-2 run, getting a three-ball by Brittany Brooks and four points from her sister Courtney that helped whittle the deficit down to 44-31, but that’s when the final rock slide occurred.
Kaitlyn Roberts began the avalanche with a trey and it ended with Emily Whitaker and Adrienne Henegar knocking down threes. Happy Valley outscored the Horns 21-3 in the span and extended their mammoth advantage at 65-34.
“We’ve experienced this all year,” said Johnson County’s head coach Thomas Wampler. “When things are going good we have a tendency to try and do things individually and that was the case tonight. We missed some open shots that were good shots, but we played a little selfish at times on some misses. The conference tournament atmosphere might have had a little something to do with that.”
The atmosphere was nearly perfect for Happy Valley.
Four Lady Warriors reached double figures. Henegar, Whitaker and Roberts tallied 17 points each. Freshman Shayln Whitson added a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Bayley McGee had a monster game with eight points, seven assists and five steals.
Henegar, Roberts and McGee are all sophomores.
Happy Valley out-rebounded Johnson County 31-15. Tianna Long and Whitaker provided seven apiece.
Courtney Brooks was the only Johnson County player in double figures with 16. Senior guard Michala Cretsinger was held to two points and took only four shots from the field in her final game.
The Longhorns shot a frigid 13-of-50 (26 percent) from the field.
Wampler touched on the season as a whole.
“We had 12 wins, the most the girls have had in quite some time. We beat a good Holston team twice and had a conference win against South. I feel like the team has made some progress.”