By Tim Chambers
When Johnson County lost talented freshman Sadie Stout, the Lady Rangers stepped up and played “stout,” then ran away to a big win. Unaka prevailed 69-46 inside of Snavely Gymnasium on Thursday, but the Lady Longhorns showed signs they could be a team to reckon with when tournament time rolls around.
Close encounters and lots of scoring early
The game was tight in the early going with Unaka’s Sarah Tipton and Johnson County’s Adrian Hall shooting lights out from the field. Hall hit a pair of treys including her second one that tied the game at 15 all but Stout suffered an ankle injury on the play and didn’t return. Her absence took away a hunk of Johnson County’s size and scoring.
Tipton meanwhile was 3-of-3 from behind the arc for nine points.
Johnson County found the long ball to its liking getting a trey each from Taylor Cox and Taylor Parsons, but the Rangers matched that and then some. Lexi Garland swished their fourth trey of the quarter which broke the final deadlock while Myah Parlier was working the inside for six points. The Rangers led 24-16 after one when Erika Potter converted a deuce in the paint in the final seconds.
The Rangers shot a torrid 60 percent, 9-of-15 from the field and ended the quarter on an 8-1 run. Head coach Leon Tolley agreed that losing Stout hurt but also noted that they were some positive things he saw despite the loss.
“We played great for the first five minutes, then the air went out of our balloon when Sadie went out,” said Tolley. “We let that affect us the last two minutes of the first and the entire second quarter. Once you give Unaka a cushion like that you’re not going to come back. We can’t give them or anyone else easy looks like we did tonight. To our credit the kids played hard in the second half but size wise they created some difficult matchups for us.”
The Rangers did cause matchup problems on the inside for the smaller Johnson County squad, but the Longhorns inability to knock down shots in the second quarter was also a factor.
Longhorns go cold in the second quarter
Hall had got the Longhorns within six to start the frame, but Unaka scored the next nine points that upped their advantage to 15.
Potter’s three-point play gave them their largest lead in the half at 20 but a three-ball by Abby Cornett and her two free throws would whittle it back down to 15.
They pushed it back to 20 by halftime thanks to Parlier’s two jumpers and a three-ball from Beth Lowe.
The Longhorns shot a dismal 2-of-12 in the quarter and made matters worse by committing six turnovers yet they came out and played even in the second half.
Courtney Brooks tossed in six points in the third quarter and Hall added her third trey. This allowed Johnson County to prevent Unaka from expanding their lead as both teams tallied 11 in the quarter.
Cox hit Johnson County’s only two shots from the field in the fourth quarter including one trey, but the Horns would knock down five free throws and were only outscored 14-10 in the period.
Hall led the Longhorns with 11 points and five rebounds. Brooks added 10 points. Cox tossed in eight points and had a team high three steals. Cornett tallied seven points. Emmy Miller and Parsons collected six rebounds apiece and tallied six and five points respectively.
The Longhorns were
Parlier had game highs of 24 points and 11 rebounds to pace the Rangers. Potter added 10 points and nine boards.
The Lady Rangers ability to share the basketball was evident in the play of their two guards.
Sarah Tipton recorded 16 points, four steals and four assists. Lexi Garlard scored only six points but did manage to dish out a game high six assists and collect five steals.
“They’re fun to watch play,” said Tolley about Unaka. “They’re really good when they play like they did tonight. Coach Kenneth Chambers has done an excellent job with those kids. We won’t see anybody better than them on our schedule.”
Unaka 69, Johnson County 46
Johnson Co. (46)
Hall 11, C. Brooks 10, Cox 8, Cornett 6, Miller 6, Parsons 5
Parlier 24, Sa. Tipton 16, Potter 10, Garland 6, Lowe 3, Forney 2, Markland 2, Whitson 2, Sav. Tipton 4.
Johnson Co. 16 10 10 10 — 46
Unaka 24 22 11 12 — 69
3-point goals—JC 7 (Hall 3, Cox 2, Cornett, Parsons) Unaka 6 (Tipton 3, Garland 2, Lowe)