By Tim Chambers
A capacity crowd was on hand to watch Johnson County try and knock off league king pen Elizabethton inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium. The Horns played their hearts out but came up just short at the end. It started in the first quarter when the Cyclones held a slim 17-14 advantage after one and continued that way until halftime. Johnson County trailed 29-28 at the break after the Cyclone drained a buzzer-beating trey by Torie Roberts.
Abby Cornett led Johnson County’s first-half surge with six points off the bench while Emmy Miller had their first 11 points of the game. The Cyclones got six apiece by Kaitlin Bailey and Kaylen Shell, but Miller was the dominant player, also gathering ten first-half rebounds. Taylor Parsons also knocked down a couple of clutch first-half shots for Johnson County and ended the half with six points. Elizabethton would win the game at the foul line with Bailey hitting 5-of-6 in the fourth quarter down the stretch, while the Horns couldn’t convert on three trips to the stripe.
Bailey led the Cyclone with 13 points while Shell ended the night with10 that put her in the 1000 point club for her career. Morgan Headrick also reached double figures with 10. Miller had a monster game with 18 points and 12 rebounds. She kept the Lady Longhorns in the game with a strong first-half performance. Taylor Cox rang up 14 for the Horns, while Parsons contributed 12 points and nine rebounds. JC’s head coach Leon Tolley pointed to a couple of plays in the game as turning points along with their inability to hit key free throws down the stretch.
“Our effort was good,” said Tolley, “and that’s a plus, but we took plays off on defense before the half ended and allowed them to hit shots that put us behind. We lost our focus, and you can’t do it in a game like this.”
On the flip side, Tolley realized that his team had won everywhere but where it counted the most – on the scoreboard. “Right now, we are not in it for moral victories,” Tolley stated. “On the whole break, we worked on focus because I told them a play you take off in the first quarter effects you down at the end of the game in the fourth.Twice, at the end of the second and the end of the third, we took a playoff and gave them a bucket at the buzzer, and that was five points, the difference in the game. It’s the little things you have to do well what wins basketball games. We’ve got to try and get over the hump and win a couple of these games.