The Lady Longhorns took center stage last week in their first home game of the season, blowing past the visiting Lady Golden Eagles from Tri-Cities Christian in a huge 54-28 win. With the boys only playing one game and reserving several of their starters because of their busy week at John Battle, the girls team became the main attraction Thursday night. From the very first quarter the game was in the Lady Longhorns favor, and with a big turnout of fans to see them play there was a lot of intensity from everyone on the roster.
With the Varsity girls being the game of the night at 8 oclock, I thought we had a nice crowd, said head coach Todd Whittemore. There were a lot of students there and I think that makes the girls play better, when the students cheer them on. I feel real good about our first home game. We havent had any home scrimmages or games so far, so it was nice to play in front of our home fans.
Usually starting off slow, the Lady Longhorns proved that they could really turn on the heat when they need to. In the first quarter alone, Brooke Brown, Sarah Swift, and Brionna Reece managed to rack up 17 points while defensive players like Mary Taylor, Brandy Dugger, and Kristin Roark helped consistently keep the Lady Eagles away from the net. Scoring only seven points total for the whole first half, it was easy to see that Tri-Cities had their hands full.
The Lady Longhorns three powerhouses on the offense all stepped up and managed double-digit individual scores by the end of the night, a goal that Coach Whittemore has carried over from last season. Really with our big three I felt we balanced the scoring, Whittemore said. Sarah Swift came out with 17 points and three for four from the free-throw line. Brooke Brown had 14 with three threes, and Brionna Reece had 11. Our ideal goal is to have Brooke, Brionna, and Sarah all scoring around 20 in the same game. Theyre working their way up. Sarah Swift has consistently been there with 17,18, 22. Brookes been up there and now Reece is starting to as well. Shes been the late bloomer of those three so far this season, but hey, were one and two on the season. Its still early, but at least we know where we need to be. Its just the journey getting there.
By the second quarter Whittemore was able to start putting in players from the bench, gaining them valuable time on the court. Not surprisingly, even some of the younger freshmen and sophomore players began racking up points and by the third quarter there was almost an entirely new lineup of girls on the court.
According to Whittemore, We played a lot of young girls. First of all, we fixed the problem we had the other night of not coming out with a good start. At the end of the first quarter it was 17-4 and thats a big difference from the 13 points that we scored in the whole first half against Cherokee. We were able to get a lead and came out after halftime at 36 to 7. I was concerned that we would come out and relax in the third quarter, and we didnt. We outscored them 16-10, got a comfortable lead and I was able to take the starters out with about two minutes to go in the third quarter. A lot of the young girls got to play and get some varsity experience, especially our bigs like Gianna Lay and Amanda Potter. They got some good time and theyre starting to be a little bit more comfortable.
One of the newer players that has already been making herself known on the JV and the varsity as well, is freshman Kourtney Tolley. Kourtney was able to come in and do a really nice job, Whittemore said. Shes starting to get used to our style and way of doing things in this program after transferring from Hampton. Weve got a lot of sets. Were not just a roll the ball out and go play up and down the court. We have to execute our plays, getting over the hump for her is just getting out there and feeling comfortable out there running the plays, remembering them.
Yet, with a strong showing both in the earlier JV and in the Varsity game, one of the most notable performances had to be from Mary Taylor. Chasing down the ball in the JV game, Taylor had a bad spill, hitting her head and shoulder hard on the wall. Worried about a potential concussion, Taylor sat out the rest of the game. There was no serious injury and as Coach Whittemore pointed out, Taylor was back in the varsity game and ready for more. Mary did a great job, she really worked hard and she responded by coming out in the varsity and giving us a big boost. Whittemore said.
With a strong third quarter behind them and a 52-17 lead, things slowed down in the fourth quarter. The lady Eagles got a few breaks early on, landing three buckets and one three pointer, but by then it was obvious that there would be no comeback. Even as the Lady Longhorns slowed down offensively, only gaining a single bucket from Gianna Lay in the whole fourth quarter, defensively Johnson County was strong enough to keep Tri-Cities from making any real difference, closing out with a huge 54-28 win.
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