By Tim Chambers
The Lady Longhorns finally found a sweet “oasis” after more than a two-year drought. Their 50-48 win over Sullivan South erased a bitter taste like the one experienced by the Israelites at the waters of Marah.
Several Lady Longhorns tossed a big stick into the pond that ended a losing streak that dated back to January 2014.
Head coach Thomas Wampler was overjoyed to finally be leaving the losing wilderness. Reaching the victors’ promised land had been a long journey.
“We had to find a way to pull it out because we had a 12-point lead at one time,” said Wampler. “It would be nice to close one out but we’re happy to end the streak. It was a great win for our kids because they now have something to show for all their hard work. I hope this is the first of a series of wins that shows the frisson of what we’ve been working on since Pittman and I took over the program last year. We’ve had some highs and some lows but we’ve steadily been getting better. I think that it’s starting to show in our play.”
The biggest contribution came from senior guard Michala Cretsinger. She finished the contest with 20 points, four assists, seven rebounds and three steals. Her 14 first half points including 12 in the second quarter allowed the Lady Longhorns to take a comfortable 32-24 halftime lead.
“It was a confidence booster because we all felt like we could win and end the streak at that point,” said Cretsinger. “I feel like this is going to carry over into our game on Friday at North. We thought we should have won at Unicoi and tonight we had that same attitude. Everyone stepped up and did a great job. But we need to do a better job of closing out the game.”
Johnson County held a slim 10-8 lead after one. Cretsinger sank a deuce to start the second quarter and Brittany Brooks bombed a three-ball that ignited them, converting on their next three possessions down the floor.
Courtney Brooks had 10 points at the half including five that came at the foul line. The Longhorns were able to build a 10-point advantage at one point despite a clock malfunction that didn’t allow the score to be displayed.
But their 32-24 lead would vanish in the third quarter after South outscored them 14-6 in the frame.
Cretsinger upped their advantage to double-digits with a three-ball to start the period, but South would go on a 11-0 run in the final four minutes and hold the lead at 38-36.
Freshman Taylor Parsons’ basket on the inside tied the game at 38 all heading into the final stanza. It would turn into an old-fashioned donnybrook from that point.
Britain Peele broke the deadlock with a bucket in the paint that put them up 40-38. Brittany Brooks delivered a clutch three-ball with 3:39 remaining that increased their advantage at 45-43.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.