Brionna Reece led a furious Lady Longhorn comeback that fell just short against the Lady Pats with 18 points and seven rebounds.
The Lady Patriots (12-9, 4-1 TRC) looked to have things going their way with a 46-36 lead going into the final quarter, but the Lady ’Horns have shown that they are a young team that believes in head coach Todd Whittemore’s philosophy and teachings — and never feels they are out of a game.
“Give Johnson County all the credit, they played tough,” said Lady Patriots head coach Allan Aubrey. “We didn’t play well, but it’s fun to watch two teams play a very tough game. Ashley Minor had a big game, hit some big baskets for us and played great defense.
“Angel didn’t have her best game, but we got good minutes from our bench. The kids coming off the bench did a great job.”
Reece dropped in a pair of free throws to open the period, but Pats guard Angel Trent answered with a bucket. Sarah Swift got loose on the baseline for JC and scored inside to make it a 48-40 contest — and a deuce by Reece inside closed the gap to 48-42.
Another pair of pressure free throws by Reece saw the ’Horns close the gap even further to 48-44, and after a turnover a running deuce by Brooke Brown made the score 48-46 inside of three minutes remaining.
The Lady Longhorns (5-11, 1-4) forced 21 turnovers from Sullivan East, playing a trapping, quick-moving zone defense that was effective in cutting down the Patriots’ passing lanes.
“We went to a diamond and one,” said Whittemore. “We wanted to frustrate Angel Trent and make her work. The box and one wouldn’t have worked; we couldn’t guard the perimeter in that defense, so we tipped it on its axis and went diamond and one.
“We didn’t want to let East beat us with the three, so we forced them to make decisions and we got some turnovers from indecision.”
After another defensive stop, Reece found the bottom of the bucket with a left-hand shot that knotted the score at 48-48 and brought the home crowd to its feet.
Aubrey pulled his troops together with a timeout, but the Pats once again had trouble with the defense of the ’Horns and Reece found herself at the free-throw line with a chance to give JC a lead.
Reece missed both shots however and Savanna Summers, who had a quiet game, banked one home to give East a 50-48 advantage, then Jamison Shaffer hit one-of-two for a three point East lead.
Minor was then good on both of her chances from the charity stripe and Shaffer knocked down a deuce to give East a 55-51 lead. Trent hit a free throw before Swift scored a deuce at the buzzer for the final tally of the evening.