Johnson Countys girls traveled to Happy Valley last Friday in their third conference game of the season. The matchup was a fairly even one with both the Lady Warriors and the Lady Longhorns fighting neck and neck throughout the first half. Both senior Brooke Brown and Sophomore Kelsey Duperry had standout showings, with Brown taking the ball to the net early on and landing a couple of big threes. Duperry also did surprisingly well on the offense in the first half, but really found the most energy on the defense, despite racking up several early fouls.
Rounded out with a little help from Kourtney Tolley, Johnson County actually closed the first quarter ahead 11-10 with fans eagerly hoping for a breakaway run like the one against North earlier in the week. Happy Valley proved very tenacious and although the game got rough at times, the Lady Warriors refused to back down. Three-point shots proved to be Happy Valleys saving grace, giving them enough extra boost to take back the lead and steadily but slowly widen the gap.
Even with these critical extra points, the Lady Warriors had to play a very intense quarter to maintain their control as once again Brooke Brown managed to find several opportunities to get off a clean shot. Brooke is a senior, shes a warrior, said head Coach Todd Whittemore. Sometimes you just have to let her go a little bit because shes one of the few we have that can create her own shot. Foul trouble got us, but I thought she did a great job out there tonight.
With both teams working hard on the defense, loose balls were being knocked out of bounds left and right and turnovers increased dramatically. As a result, neither team scored for the first half of the second quarter. Yet, when the stalemate finally broke it was Happy Valley that came out on top, eventually going on to finish the half ahead 17-25.
Had a few missed shots found their mark, the Lady Longhorns might have been closer to regaining their foot hold, but even down by as much as 10 Johnson County continued to fight throughout the third quarter. Things even started to look up as Brown and fellow senior Brionna Reece began to make headway a couple of minutes into the third. Cutting it all the way back to two points at 28-30, Johnson Countys defense might have been able to hold the Lady Warriors long enough to gain a crucial turnover. As Whittemore pointed out, things took a drastic turn for the worse.
Kelsey Duperry fouling out there in the third quarter really hurt us, Whittemore said, Thats definitely my fault. She was the one player we had that was out there going nuts, and when she had her fourth I just didnt realize. I thought she only had two. I did purposely leave her in there. I was gambling because we were down 10 or 11 trying to fight back. The gamble came up short, but this was her first start tonight. I thought she did a good job and she definitely earned some more playing time. We have to get used to her playing in there. I like what she brought to the table, but we just didnt get it done tonight for whatever reason. We have five games in the next seven days so we just have to put this behind us and move forward.
Without Duperry, things began to fall apart. The deficit quickly jumped back up to five, and with another Happy Valley three pointer, settled at eight just before the start of the fourth. Johnson County tried to use the last eight minutes of the game to pull off another big turn around, but simply could not get into a position to stop Happy Valleys offense. For every basket that Kourtney Tolley, Brooke Brown, or Brionna Reece made, the Lady Warriors made just as many and often more. As a result, the lead went from 10 points at 39-49 to finish up 16 ahead at 46-62.
Obviously disappointed with the outcome, Coach Whittemore attributed the defeat to a combination of several small mistakes and the determination of Happy Valleys team. We didnt start the way we wanted to but we hung around, Whittemore said. It was an ugly game and we got into some foul trouble there but I thought we battled back and put ourselves in a great position. It was a six-point game when we hit that one with an offensive rebound. Then it went from down six and us having the ball to all of a sudden were down nine. I have to give Happy Valley credit; they played tough and stuck with it. It wasnt a pretty game either way, but I think they stuck to their guns a little bit there. I think we got frustrated and made some mistakes that really hurt us.
Johnson County 46,
Happy Valley 62
Brooke Brown 26
Brionna Reece 7
Kourtney Tolley 6
Kelsey Duperry 4
Amanda Potter 2
Mary Taylor 1