By Tim Chambers
To say that the Lady Longhorns had a banner week would be an understatement to those who have followed the basketball program over the years. It all started on Tuesday when they knocked off Cloudland 50-48 in overtime. The Lady Highlanders came into the game ranked No.7 in Class A, and it’s the first time in school history that they’ve ever beaten a state-ranked team.
Taylor Parson’s play was just as beautiful on the court as her performance when she won the Miss Tennessee Outstanding Teen beauty pageant and placed third in the Miss America Outstanding Teen beauty pageant. She celebrated senior night by pouring in a game-high 19 points, including five down the stretch in the fourth quarter when the game was still on the line.
Her three-ball with 3:10 remaining put the Horns on top 46-43 and swing the momentum in Johnson County’s favor. Senior Taylor Cox had a key basket with 1:48 remaining that tied the game at 48 all after the Highlanders had taken a 2-point advantage.
Emmy Miller hit 2-of-2 free throws with 4.2 remaining that gave the Horns a 50-48 lead. Cloudland had a chance to tie the game at the end of the overtime period but missed the front end of a one-and-one-free throw attempt.
Parsons went out with a bang on senior night, as did Cox and Natalie Winters. Cox finished with 11 points and was a pest on the defensive end with a couple of key steals. Winters had a couple of beautiful assists in the fourth quarter from her point guard position and ran the offense to perfection.
Miller’s workman lie performance earned her the game’s hard hat and lunch pale because she came up with two key rebounds in the overtime period. The Lady Longhorns got the week off to a good start by defeating Unicoi County 52-48. They had a much easier time on Thursday when they finally reached 20 wins with a 70-36 victory over University School. Miller’s two free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining sealed the deal. Sadie Stout had a big-time performance by scoring 14 points.
Jasmine Birchfield led the Lady Highlanders with 16, and Gracie Freeman tallied 14. Johnson County 64, University School 24. Winning number 20 was an easy task as they destroyed University School 64-24 on Thursday, Valentine’s Day only they showed no love on this night. Taylor Parsons continued her good play with 14 points.
Senior reserve Abby Cornett came off the bench to hit two treys in the first quarter that helped them build a 20-3 lead after the first quarter and led 32-4 at the half. Coach Leon Tolley tried to tweak the lineup a bit in the third quarter, but UH got hot and outscored JC 18-12. The Lady Horns settled down and tossed in 14 points in the fourth quarter and held UH to only two.
Winters played a good floor game, dishing out a game-high eight assists. Parsons and Miller were the chairmen of the boards in the rebounding department with nine each. That set the stage for a tight-fisted affair at David Crockett on Friday, where they came away with a 48-41 victory. The game was tied 26-26 at the half, but they got off to a good start in the third quarter after Sadie Stout hit a three-ball to put them on top to stay.
Cox hit a pair of free throws that stretched their lead out to five, and they never relinquished it until the fourth quarter. Cox made sure that the Horns retained the lead converting a three-point play after Crockett rallied to tie the game. The game was tied 34 all after three, but he Horns got off to a good start in the fourth stanza. Parsons went back door for a lay in, and Emmy Miller hit from the charity stripe.
Crockett tied the game again and led by six midway in the fourth quarter, but baskets by Cox and Winters was just what the doctor ordered for the Lady Longhorns to pull out another victory. Winters’ two free throws late in the game would seal win No.21 on the season.
“We talked about not getting satisfied at halftime just playing close,” said Tolley about his Lady Longhorns. “We came down here to win the game, and the girls did a good job of overcoming a four-game week. We gave up too many second-chance points in the first half. I would rather win ugly than lose pretty, and you have to do that in the tournaments. Give Crockett all the credit because they were without their Coach, and they played hard and pushed us to the limit. It’s been a great week for us winning four games.”
The Lady Horns finish the regular season with a record of 21 wins versus ten losses.