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Lady Horns still confident after tough loss to Elizabethton

The Lady Longhorns were faced with yet another tough challenge, this time from the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones. In a 24-60 loss that seemed eerily similar to last week’s bout with Cloudland, Coach Todd Whittemore seemed surprisingly confident that his team would be able to overcome this recent slump. “I told the girls that after two bad losses in a row at home, we want people to get on the bandwagon not get ‘em jumping off. We’re going to make a couple of changes. Some of our older varsity players we haven’t been playing in JV, and we are now. I told those girls, ‘hey be ready to play maybe eight quarters a night’. We’ve got to get better and I don’t know if that’s been the case these last two games. I know we played some really good teams. I’m aware of that, but I just feel we could have competed better.”
The first half is what really cost the Longhorns the game, with the only successful non-foul point gain coming from Brooke Brown about 50 seconds from the half time buzzer. The first score of the game for Johnson County was three minutes into the first quarter when Brionna Reece picked up a foul shot, followed by another foul, this time on Sarah Swift, that gave the Lady Longhorns 3 points to start off the second. Meanwhile, a very aggressive Elizabethton managed to drive in and sink 9 buckets, giving them 18.
The second quarter was largely a repeat of the first, with a foul on Brooke Brown that resulted in a 2-point gain, followed by a successful bucket, bringing the girls to 7 at halftime, while Elizabethton had racked up 37. According to #23, Chelsea McCullouch, “We just gave up. I think we came in believing that since we played well in the Jamboree against them that we could just come in, especially knowing that they had a new coach, and we would just have had to win. We were all slacking.”
Yet, despite the bleak outlook of the game, the Lady Longhorns came back from the half with a strong rally that began to show their real skills especially against such a strong opponent. Defensively, Johnson County began slowing down Elizabethton’s rise and at the same time managed to pick up their biggest gain in points for the entire game. “The third quarter we only lost by one point. It was our best quarter and usually its not,” said Whittemore. “I felt we were more aggressive in the third quarter. As the first half went on we got more and more timid, but then we spread it out more and our other players got more aggressive.”
The second half kicked off with some changes on the Longhorn’s line up as well, with both McCullouch and Mary Taylor coming in from the bench. Within the first minute of the third quarter Brown had landed a bucket followed by a foul shot from Reece. McCullouch then made the first of her two 3-point shots for the night along with successful gains from Brandy Dugger and Nikki Farrow. The quarter closed with a last second basket by Brooke Brown, bumping the score up to 19-50.
In the fourth quarter Johnson County backed off a little offensively, but picked up defensively, keeping Elizabethton to their lowest gains of the night. Unfortunately, other than a timely 3 pointer by McCullouch, the only other gain for Johnson County was right at the end of the quarter.
Speaking about his overall impression of the game, Whittemore stated, “We’ve got to try to find a positive. I thought the whole game we played hard and had a good attitude. They played a really great defense. They blocked a lot of ours. I thought we got it to the post good but they’ve got some size. We’re trying to get fans to root for us. I know we’re working on it but we’ve also got to produce.”
Final Score: Johnson County 24, Elizabethton 60
Brooke Brown 8
Chelsea McCullouch 6
Sarah Swift 4
Nikki Farrow 2
Brandy Dugger 2
Brionna Reece 2