By Tim Chambers
Happy Valley’s unblemished conference record nearly got dented by a determined team of Lady Longhorns but the middle school Warriors found a way to pull out the victory. The Lady Longhorns took them down to the wire before falling 37-31 inside their own gym on Thursday.
It was quite a turnaround from the previous game that saw the Lady Longhorns get down by 28. But that wasn’t the case on this night. They led 27-26 with 4:59 remaining in the game only to be outscored 10-5 down the stretch.
Their performance drew praise from head coach Kechia Eller.
“We showed up and played all four quarters against the best team in our conference,” said Eller. “We played with a ton of heart and hustle. They gave it their all the whole game. Sadie had a phenomenal game and the others played good around her. It’s a total change from where we were earlier in the year. These kids have improved a bunch.”
Baskets by Sadie Stout, Maddie Edington and Cassidy Lakatos allowed Johnson County to take an early lead in the game but the Warriors came storming back behind their one-two punch of Morgan Headrick and Olivia Absher.
Absher’s three and eight points by Headrick enabled the Warriors to hold a slim 14-13 advantage after one.
The Lady Longhorns used a stingy defense to stay in the game during the second quarter. They failed to score a single point but held the Warriors to only four points in the quarter.
Happy Valley led 18-13 at the half but the tide would turn in the third quarter.
Stout dominated the third quarter by tossing in 12 points and she continued to sizzle in the following frame.
She scored their first six points of the quarter to tie the game at 19 all. She later nailed a jumper that gave them the lead at 25-23.
Absher’s three-ball at the buzzer gave the Lady Warriors a 26-25 lead heading into the final stanza. It remained tight up until the final minute.
Stout’s three-ball gave Johnson County its last lead at 28-27 with 5:40 remaining.
She added another trey with 1:20 left on the clock to cut a six-point deficit in half at 34-31. A late basket by Roberts and a free throw allowed the Tribe to escape with the victory.
Stout fired in a game high 21 points to lead the way. Edington pulled down eight rebounds to top that department. Emmy Miller and Rhiannon Icenhour collected seven each.
“We knew what they were going to do so we just went out and played super hard with nothing to lose,” said Stout. “We wanted to beat them and felt like we should have. I’m happy we were able to hang with them because everyone hustled and played with lots of heart. This will help us going into the tournaments.”
Headrick led the Warriors with 17 points and Absher added 12.
The Lady Longhorns fell 31-12 in the seventh grade game.
Jacey Eshleman led the Horns with five points.