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Lady Longhorns concede defeat to Sullivan East

The Lady Longhorns have had a string of tough battles over the past few weeks, most of the time holding on as long as they could even considering the relative youth of the team and the loss of several key players. After holding out through loss after loss the dam finally broke last week against the Sullivan East Lady Patriots. Facing a team that could rain down three pointers, with three times as many players in their lineup, and factoring in that Johnson County’s sole senior leader, Brooke Brown, was facing a painful back injury that limited her shooting, it was no shock that the game went against the Lady Longhorns from the very beginning.
Having just played against Cloudland the night before, it was obvious that Johnson County was still feeling the effects of giving it everything they had. The first few plays of the first quarter seemed fairly well matched, with an opening tie of 2-2, but as East got into their rhythm, what energy Johnson County had quickly dissipated. By the five-minute mark the score was already down 2-9, with no other offensive advance for the next three minutes. Brook Brown finally landed a bucket to put it at 4-20, and fired another couple shots off a foul a few seconds later. With an offensive rebound from Sophomore Amanda Potter, Johnson County closed out the first quarter way behind, 8-31. “I felt like we were a little tired tonight,” said Head Coach Todd Whittemore. “We had a war last night at Cloudland and we came out flat and they came out ready to go. Once we got in the hole it was hard to get out of it. I give East a lot of credit. Their energy was pretty awesome. It wasn’t fun to coach against it, but as a coach you can appreciate that they had it rolling tonight.”
In all, Johnson County faced 12 separate three-point shots, and a storm of layups, free throws, and rebounds. The Lady Longhorns did their best, but with Brown clearly hurting from a recently dislocated rib, even their go to shooter was largely down for the count. Some of the younger play¬ers like Kelsey Duperry and Kourtney Tolley did an admirable job of trying to step up in the second, but there was little the team could do to slow down the intensely aggressive Lady Patriot offense. “Brooke doesn’t want to tell anybody, but she’s hurt,” admitted Whittemore. “When your best player is hurt you have to have other players step up. We’re young and in¬experienced but we have good attitudes and work hard. Last night we got off to a good start and that is what we had to do tonight to be able to compete but we started off slow and they were hot. We dug a hole we couldn’t get out of it.”
By halftime the score was a nightmarish 16-58. Real¬izing that the battle was over before it started, Coach Whittemore decided to give players like Dawn Lewis and Maddie South a chance to come in off the bench, both of whom did surprisingly well in the third quarter. Switching in and out all eight players in the lineup as an effort to try to give some relief, the Lady Longhorns managed to land five buckets and a free throw before the buzzer. Two of those shots, one of which was a plus one, came from Kelsey Duperry, but others like freshman Michala Cretsinger and sophomore Kourtney Tolley did their part as well, eventually pushing Johnson County up to nearly 30 points before the start of the fourth.
East was still well ahead, but actually slowed greatly in their advances in the last period. Johnson County held the Lady Patriots to just eight points in the fourth, while Tolley and Cretsinger led with the final few baskets of the game to close out 40-75. One of their toughest losses this year, there game was still a team effort. As Whittemore pointed out, with so few players left on the team, depth is always going to be a challenge.
“East did a great job doing what they do,” Whittemore said. “They press and they shoot the three. We’re basically playing six girls right now, and with our lack of depth and inexperience we have a hard time with the press anyways, but when you have two nights in a row where you go into Cloudland and follow it up going to East, playing six girls is not an easy task. We just have to keep working to be ready for tournament time.”
Final Score: Johnson County 40-Sullivan East 75
Kelsey Duperry 11
Kourtney Tolley 11
Brooke Brown 9
Amanda Potter 6
Michala Cretsinger 3