The Johnson County Lady Longhorns continue to show what a tough team they are as they played a close first half against an extremely talented lineup of Elizabethton Lady Cyclones in their own gym. In fact, despite having the odds against them, the Lady Longhorns were able to keep a victory well within reach all the way up to the end of the third quarter. Even when things obviously werent going their way in the fourth, the girls never backed down, making the Lady Cyclones earn their win.
We said we wanted to make them not enjoy this game and I think they didnt, said Head Coach Todd Whittemore. We made them work. I though our defense did well. We blocked out better tonight. We blocked out on the rebounds a little bit better than we had. But then somewhere there in the third it just got away from us. I think they were getting a little tired, Sarah had an injured foot, and she was just a warrior for even going out there tonight. We held them to 18 or 19 points and thats a pretty good job against Elizabethton at Elizabethton.
The Lady Longhorns had a surprisingly successful first quarter, coming out with a basket from Brooke Brown and a follow up by Brandy Dugger to put Johnson County in the drivers seat at 5-3. A three-point shot from Brown helped secure the lead and despite tying up at 7, Johnson County was actually able to maintain control all the way into the second, finishing up their first period ahead at 11-9.
The girls seemed to take the game play by play through the second quarter with foul shots helping on several occasions. Other than free throws, there wasnt much from the Lady Longhorns offense, but a strong defensive showing kept the Lady Cyclones from breaking away, even as a couple of turnovers in the last few seconds cost Johnson County the lead coming into the second half. According to Whittemore, I thought there were a couple of mistakes there at the end of the half. I wanted to run the clock out there and score on them. We had a couple of turnovers there, but I still like the way the first half was more of our style and less of theirs.
Having taken back the lead, the Lady Cyclones were determined not to give it back. The Lady Longhorns struggled on throughout the third, staying within just a couple of points of regaining control, but by around the three-minute mark there were obvious signs that Johnson County was slipping. Trailing by six at one point, a basket from Mary Taylor and a foul shot by Brionna Reece managed to bring the deficit back down to three, but a string of Cyclone shots, and free throws in the last minute left the Lady Longhorns coming into the fourth down by 10 at 24-34.
Fatigue started to play a factor for the Longhorns in the last period of the game, as the larger Cyclone team was able to cycle in some of their fresher players. We only have a couple that we pull off the bench but theyve got to play well for us and they just didnt tonight, Whittemore said. We need seven or eight girls playing well. We cant have girls have a bad night. All of them have to play well. Coming out of that tough JV game who did we suit up? An injured Sarah and Kristin Roark to play on our varsity. We lost by 40 with the same group of girls and we added an injured Sarah and Kristin and then played their varsity.
Foul shots became the only real offensive gains for the Lady Longhorns and although Brionna Reece, Brooke Brown, and Brandy Dugger all made it to the line on multiple occasions, it was not enough to answer some of the big gains that Elizabethtons talented younger players were putting up. By the end of the quarter Johnson County was behind by more than 20, ending of a 32-53 loss.
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