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Lady Longhorns rustle Rangler 48-38

By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
[email protected]

Pat Benatar’s classic song “Hit me with your best shot” was performed to perfection by the Lady Longhorns on Friday night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium. The one-two punch of Micahla Cretsinger and Kourtney Tolley knocked out Unaka 48-38.
The “C&T Connection” combined for 44 points, 25 rebounds and eight steals. And they accomplished it with one of its top starters on the sidelines.
“We started two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior tonight,” said head coach Todd Whittemore. “I thought Micahla and Kourtney made the freshmen feel comfortable enough to where everyone meshed in well. Our first player off the bench was another freshman so as a coach you like that. We had some adversity this week but I love the way this team responded and overcame it. It’s a big win for our kids.”

Unaka (0-3) didn’t hesitate to play its freshman class either. A trio of them were instrumental in helping the Lady Rangers build a 15-6 first quarter lead.
Two treys by Madison Ensor and another from Sarah Tipton helped the Lady Rangers jump on top in the early going. Katlyn Weaver’s spin moved capped off a 9-3 Ranger run.
Cretsinger had five points in the first quarter and Tolley took over from there during the second stanza.

Her four points and a pair of free throws allowed the ‘Horns to pull even at 20-20 just before intermission.
Freshman Lexi Garland’s basket in the final seconds enabled Unaka to hold a slim 22-20 halftime advantage.
“You have to have your returning players step up when your best player and leading scorer is out,” said Unaka’s head coach Kenneth Chambers. “Tonight we didn’t have that. We didn’t play well at all.”
The lead see-sawed back and forth in the third quarter with neither team ever able to open up a sizable lead.
Johnson County (2-3) took the lead for good on Cretsinger’s free throws at the 1:17 mark. Their 31-28 advantage after three would begin to increase in the fourth.
Cretsinger cut loose for 10 points and Tolley added 6-of-9 from the charity stripe. The Lady Longhorns’ defense held the Rangers to only nine field goals over the final three quarters after they had hit six in the first.

“Tonight we came out and played team basketball,” said Cretsinger. “We crashed the boards and outrebounded them. We wanted to get every loose ball and we took it to them to try and get on the foul line. I thought making our free throws was the difference in the game.”
The sophomore phenomenon was correct on her assessment.
The Lady Longhorns shot 23-of-33 (70%) for the game. Unaka hit only 5-of-12.
Cretsinger ended the night with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five steals. Tolley’s monster performance included 20 points and 14 rebounds.
“We’re starting to mesh together with our freshmen players,” added Tolley. “Tonight was a big confidence booster for our team. We needed this win to overcome some of the things that happened this week. This is something out team can definitely build on.”

Freshmen Brittany and Courtney Brooks added a pair of free-throws apiece. Courtney collected five rebounds and four assists in her first starting role. Freshman Haley Brown provided five rebounds as well.
Sierra Wright led the Lady Rangers with nine. Ensor added eight and Sarah Tipton seven.
Both teams were short-handed.
Unaka’s leading scorer, Hannah Tipton, missed the game with a sprained ankle. Johnson County was without the services of Kelsey Duperry.
Whittemore is hoping that his team’s play created some excitement among their fan base. The gym was packed during the final quarter of their contest.

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