By Jonathan Pleasant
After a long, rough, slow down filled with close calls, hard hits, and disappointing defeats, the Lady Longhorns were finally back on the winning side of the scoreboard as they earned a huge conference victory on the road against the Sullivan North Lady Golden Raiders. For both teams this season has been no picnic, and with Johnson County already having pulled out a win against North earlier in the year, the Lady Raiders gave the game everything they had.
With equally limited numbers Johnson County had to stay on their toes to pull out front, but with players like Amanda Potter and Kourtney Tolley doing a fantastic job getting the rebound, the Lady Longhorns finished up the first quarter with a sizable 14-7 lead. Shots by Potter, Michala Cretsinger, and Kelsey Duperry helped Johnson County reach 20 within the first minute of the second only to be topped off by a three pointer from Brooke Brown.
Offensively the team was on fire throughout the night, with four players on the lineup ultimately reaching double digits. One of those was sophomore Amanda Potter, who not only racked up 12 points of her own but also had 10 rebounds to her credit.
This will be good medicine for us, I think, Potter said after the game. Theyre really temperamental. The JV game didnt go so well, but we switched some things around and we did pretty good. This win after so many horrible losses can help. Hopefully we can build on this success.
When asked what made the difference in her own game, Potter explained that a lot of it was owing to the lessons and leadership of senior Brooke Brown. Honestly, Ive been hanging out with Brooke a lot, and it helps. With her being hurt, Coach Whittemore has been telling us we need to help her out more. If we dont want to play for ourselves we need to play for her and I think that helps motivate everybody on the team. Shes the leader of this team. Shes very supportive and it keeps us going.
Even with her recent back injury, Brown played through the pain to become the top scorer of the night, making most of her best shots early in the game. Yet, even later, when some of the shots didnt quite make their mark, players like Kourtney Tolley were right there on the other side of the goal to pick up a key offensive rebound.
Weve been working very hard with Kourtney to get her to step up, said Coach Todd Whittemore. I thought she did some really good things. She took a charge tonight; she was getting her hand on the ball, some deflections in the press, and I thought her offensive rebounding tonight was as good Ive seen all year. Thats what Ive been telling her, if Brook has the ball shes probably going to shoot it. Come to the other side of the goal. I think shes got some more confidence out of this.
Even with their success, North still made for a tough challenge at times. Going on a run late in the third quarter the Lady Raiders managed to fight back from a more than 15 point deficit to cut it to just five after landing a three-3 pointer that put the score at 27-32. The Lady Longhorns managed to keep the lead and actually put a little more distance between them, but for the next three minutes of play,
North was less than 10 points from catching up. A foul right at the end of the quarter allowed Michala Cretsinger to sink a couple of free throws to close out ahead 44-34.
With both teams showing so much drive and determination, things got a little heated in the fourth. Fouls began racking up and the fight for the ball ended up on the floor more often than not. At one point Junior Gianna Lay got into a particularly tight spot, receiving a personal foul at the same time her opponent received a technical foul for shoving her down in retaliation. In the end though, fouls hurt North more than they did Johnson County, seeing their lead only grow in the last few minutes of the game.
Eventually closing out nearly 20 points ahead, Whittemore was naturally very pleased with the final outcome. I dont think the score at the end reflected how good a game it was, the coach said. I think they cut it to four maybe one time there in the third but we just kept plugging away. Nothing has been easy for us this year so just getting a victory is good, especially on the road and in the conference. I give Coach Barker and the Sullivan North girls credit. Theyve had a rough season also but they just keep playing hard and I know how that feels. Were not a whole lot ahead of where theyre at. It was a good win for us and we needed that, especially after being in Elizabethton last night and getting drilled. Im happy for our girls. We needed a win to keep their morale up.
Final Score: Johnson County 66- Sullivan North 49
Brooke Brown 22
Michala Cretsinger 12
Kourtney Tolley 12
Amanda Potter 12
Kelsey Duperry 6
Mackenzie Bauer 2
Gianna Lay 1
By Jonathan Pleasant