JC’s Peyton Gentry (4) pass to Emmy Miller in a game against Hampton earlier this season. Gentry has helped fill the void the Longhorns felt after graduating 4 seniors in 2020. File Photo by Joey Icenhour
By Tim Chambers
After graduating four starters off of last year’s team that won a school-record 23 games and went to the regional tournament for the first time in 23 years, the Lady Longhorns had to find some replacements to fill their void. With only three seniors and no juniors on the squad, they have to look among its fountain of youth to fill a point guard’s role. They appear to have filled the loss with sophomore Peyton Gentry who took over for 2-year starter Natalie Winters at the point.
“It’s been a big change since I only played junior varsity ball last year,” said Gentry. “The speed of the game is much faster, and the players are much better as you step up. My coaches (Coach Tolley, Coach Smith, and Coach Kechia) have helped me deal with many things that I see now. I feel more confident on the floor and know what to expect when I see it.”
Peyton went on to say. “The seniors that were here last year left some big shoes to fill. But our seniors this year, Sadie Stout, Emmy Miller, and Abby Lipford, who played last year, have really helped our younger players to adjust.”
Gentry feels like the most challenging thing they have dealt with is the quarantine.
“I try to dribble out on the porch or in the driveway when we’re in quarantine. I feel like it’s important to keep a ball in our hands to try and work on our skills. But you hate to see it come when you feel like you’re starting to play well.”
She is looking forward to the second half of the season.
“I think we can play some good basketball and improve our position come tournament time,” added Gentry. “We were in quarantine a lot in December, so we want to put that behind us.”
She feels like they can do that with an experienced coaching staff.
“They are great,” said Gentry about her coaches. “When we see things that are hard to recognize, we can look over there, and they know immediately what we should do. They help us in so many ways. We’re fortunate to have the staff that we do with all the young players we have on the team.”
Gentry feels like the sophomore class will gain experience and become a good team later down the road.
“We’ve got the players that want to be good,” added Gentry. “We’ll work extra hard and do what we need to do to get better. We want people to respect our basketball program.”
Gentry hopes they can compile some more conference wins over the next few weeks.
“We want to get closer as a team and grow together and win some of the close games that we lost the first half,” said Gentry.
She’s been working hard on her three-point shot to try and take some pressure off Miller and Stout.
“We want to do whatever we can to take the pressure off of them,” said Gentry. “If we can pick up our scoring, that will help a lot.”
Peyton is the daughter of Brad and Christi Gentry of Doe. She said they had had a huge influence on her to be good on the basketball court and in the classroom. She has a younger sister, Ella. Her mother is the assistant principal at Johnson County High School, but Peyton doesn’t want to follow in her footsteps.
“I want to go into the medical field,” she said.
But for now, she’ll continue to try and improve her game on the basketball court. After all, it’s now “Peyton’s Place.”