By Tim Chambers
The same type of effort against the same team they played on Thursday produced pretty much the same result. Johnson County took second place Sullivan South down to the wire before falling 39-34 on Saturday night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium on Senior Night.
Had they won, the Longhorns would have played South for a third straight in less than a week in the District tournament. Instead, the girls will now face third seed Unicoi County because South held the tiebreaker for the second seed.
The game went down to the wire with Johnson County looking for a chance to tie. Courtney Brooks had swished a huge three with 21 seconds remaining that got JC within three at 37-34.
JC elected to foul the Lady Rebels hoping for a miss that would give them back possession with 12 seconds left. The girls got the miss they wanted but didn’t block out on the shot. Morgan Littleton sank a pair of free throws with six seconds showing to seal the victory for South.
“That’s two games in a row that we’ve given tremendous effort,” said Johnson County’s head coach Leon Tolley. “We played great defense, but our trouble is on the other end now. We have a real hard time scoring points. I told our kids that making shots is contagious; effort is contagious and so is defense. If we can get one person to make shots, it might help. It’s probably my fault because we’ve been focusing a lot of defense. But we’ve got three days to try and get better offensively. You have to score 50 points or more to win in our league.
It was a testament to the coaching staff that the Horns stayed in the game despite their lack of offense. Baskets by Taylor Parsons and Abby Cornett allowed them to take a 7-6 lead after one.
They appeared to have solved their offensive woes early in the second quarter.
Back to back treys by Sadie Stout and Adrian Hall extended their lead at 15-12 in the early going. But South matched the two treys and then went on a 7-0 run to go up 19-15.
South got an offensive rebound and a stick back from Nicole Troutman to lead 27-23 at the half after buckets from Courtney Brooks, and Parsons had whittled the deficit to four.
Coach (Garry) Smith likes to tell them that two or three minutes won’t win a game, but it sure can lose one. The game came down to one missed block out on a free throw. If we get the rebound, we have a chance to tie, but I’m as proud as I can be effort wise. The way we are playing right now is where we needed to be at the start of the year. I knew we had ways to go, but I was hoping that we were further along. We’ve had some sickness, but we’re playing our guts out. We can go down there and win the tournament, or we can lose in the first round. It all depends on which team shows up.”
The game was nip-and-tuck during the third quarter with South in front 29-27 going into the final frame. Six points by Courtney Brooks allowed the Horns to stay in the hunt sitting up the fourth quarter showdown.
Brooks led the Longhorns with 14 points. Senior Kaitlyn Nichols tossed in four in her last regular season home game.
Troutman led the Lady Rebels with 14 points.
Sullivan South 39, Johnson County 34
JOHNSON COUNTY (34)
- Brooks 14, Parsons 6, Stout 5, Hall 3, Nichols 4, Cornett 2, Winters 0, B. Brooks 0, Cox 0
SULLIVAN SOUTH (39)
Troutman 14, Harris 9, Littleton 6, St. Clair 6, Leslie 4, Compton 0, Cosma 0
Johnson County 7 10 10 7 — 34
Sullivan South 6 15 8 10 — 39
3-point goals—JC 4 (Brooks 2, Hall 1, Stout 1) SS 3 (Harris 3)