By Tim Chambers
BLOUNTVILLE, TN—The Lady Longhorns narrowed the gap immensely by taking a strong Sullivan Central team down to the wire on its home court. Unfortunately, they came up just a bit short in the end.
Johnson County provided fans with a gutsy comeback effort before falling 56-53 to the Lady Cougars inside of the Dickie Warren Dome on Friday.
The Longhorns fell behind 19-7 after one thanks to several long treys including two from Central’s Avery Lemming. They battled back to outscore the Cougars by nine over the final three quarters.
JCHS’ head coach Leon Tolley was proud of their efforts.
“They shot well in the first quarter but they were contested shots,” said Tolley about Central. “It was the shots that we wanted them to take but they just made them. We battled back and tied it up late in the game and had every opportunity in the world to win. Tonight’s performance was a night and day difference from the way we played at Cloudland. We had three girls inside; Taylor Parsons, Emmy Miller and Hazlee Kleine that played their hearts out and did a great job on their big post player. I felt like had there been another minute that we might have won the game. I am proud of their effort and the way they fought back.”
The slugfest began in the second quarter after Lemming had closed the first quarter with a pair of treys.
Crawford’s three-point play gave the Cougars a 27-15 advantage before the Horns punched back in order to steal back some momentum.
Taylor Parsons provided four points while Adrian Hall and Hazelee Kleine added buckets. They closed the frame on a 7-0 run and trailed 31-24 at the half.
“We played nervous and got knocked around before we finally responded,” added Tolley. “But we got back up and played hard. That was definitely good to see.”
They reduced the deficit by three in the third quarter getting seven points from Courtney Brooks and a three-ball by Hall. Baskets from Emmy Miller and Sadie Stout left them trailing 40-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
Crawford was a terror on the inside scoring 18 points before fouling out with 3:58 remaining with her team leading 50-46. The Longhorns had a couple of chances to even the score in the final minute but turned the ball over.
The Cougars (7-7, 3-1) got six free throws by Sams down the stretch that turned out to be the difference.
Lemming complimented Crawford’s effort with 15 points including four treys. Sanders contributed 11 and Sams just missed double figures, scoring nine.
Parsons led the Lady Longhorns with 14 points and eight rebounds along with Brooks who added 12 points. Stout collected eight points and three assists. Miller had a team high 12 rebounds and seven points. Hall contributed five points and a pair of steals.
Tolley was more upbeat than after Tuesday’s loss to Cloudland.
“When you play hard with a lot of effort you give yourself a chance to win. This is definitely something we can build on tonight.”
The Longhorns (2-10, 1-2) were set to play Happy Valley on Tuesday before hosting Sullivan East at home on Friday.
Sullivan Central 56, Johnson Co. 53
JOHNSON CO. (53)
Parsons 14, C. Brooks 12, Stout 8, E. Miller 7, Hall 5, Cox 2, Kleine 2, Winters 0.
Crawford 18, Lemming 15, Sanders 11, Sams 9, Robinette 3, Hurd 0, McClellan 0.
Johnson Co. 7 17 13 16 — 53
Sul. Central 19 12 9 16 — 56
3-point goals—JC 4 (Hall 1, Stout 1, Parsons 1, Brooks 1) SC 6 (Lemming 4, Robinette 1, Sams 1).