By Tim Chambers
A very good Cloudland team found the going tough unlike in years past at Johnson County. The Lady Longhorns took the Landers down to the wire before falling 48-46 inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium on Tuesday.
The Longhorns had a chance to tie with .06 seconds remaining but missed a pair of free throws. Head coach Leon Tolley summed up the contest in addition to praising their overall effort.
“You’re never pleased with a loss, but that team beat us by 59 points last year,” said Tolley. “We got the lead and we got afraid because we’ve not played with the lead a whole lot. It’s all a step in the process. The effort and willingness to compete is there, but we just have to fine tune some things. I like the way we’re progressing and I’m as proud of them as I can be.”
Johnson County came out sizzling in the first quarter behind the red hot shooting of Adrian Hall.
The sophomore opened the game with a long three and scored seven of the Longhorns’ first nine points. Her baskets and one each from sophomores Taylor Parsons and Taylor Cox allowed them to surge in front 14-9 after one.
Things didn’t go as well in the second quarter for the Horns. A three-point play by freshman Sadie Stout were the only points they could muster.
Kenzie Birchfield tallied eight points including two treys helping Cloudland outscore the Longhorns 13-3. They led 22-17 at the half.
The Longhorns got some strong play by senior point guard Courtney Brooks and Stout to edge closer in the third stanza. Brooks tallied six points and Stout added five, helping them outscore the Lady Landers 15-11.
Stout’s three-point play in the final seconds left the Horns trailing by a slim 33-32 margin going into the final quarter.
Johnson County was never able to take the lead but they did pull even at one point. They tied the game at 35-all on a pair of Parsons’ free throws with 5:10 remaining.
Cloudland appeared to have the game well in hand after going on a 9-2 run that enabled them to lead 44-37 with 2:59 remaining. Somebody forgot to tell that to the Lady Steers.
They got a huge three-ball from Brittany Brooks that started their comeback bid. Free throws down the stretch from Stout and Cox got Johnson County within two with 58 seconds showing.
Natalie Winters made a great hustle play near midcourt in the final seconds, giving Johnson County a chance to tie.
That play defined Johnson County’s will to win and never-quit attitude down the stretch.
Parsons led the Longhorns with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Stout followed with 10 points and six boards. Hall and Courtney Brooks rang up seven points apiece.
“We’ve got some great coaching now so we’re trying to get better,” said Parsons. “Losing to them hurts because they beat us bad last year.”
Megan Lunsford had a game high 15 points for Cloudland. Birchfield added 11 points including three treys.
Cloudland 48, Johnson County 46
Lunsford 15, K. Birchfield 11, Wilson 6, Gouge 4, J. Birchfield 4, Vines 4, Fields 4
JOHNSON COUNTY (46)
Parsons 12, Stout 10, C. Brooks 7, Hall 7, Cox 5, B. Brooks 3, Nichols 2, Cornett 0, E. Miller 0, Winters 0, Peele 0, B. Miller 0.
Cloudland 9 13 11 15 — 48
Johnson Co. 14 3 15 14 — 46
3-point goals—Cloudland 6 (Lunsford 3, K. Birchfield 3) JC 2 (Hall, B. Brooks)