GRAY — The third time is usually the charm, but there was nothing charming in the way Sullivan South handled Unaka on Wednesday morning at Daniel Boone High School’s Bobby Snyder Gym.
The Johnson City Honda Invitational saw the Lady Rebels post five players in double figures in scoring a 90-63 win over the Lady Rangers, giving South its third victory of the season over Unaka (8-7 overall).
“The last three days of practice we have committed ourselves to being a better rebounding team,” said Lady Rangers head coach Wes Wright. “We know that’s one of our main weaknesses. South is a good enough team that if we give them second chance shots, they will make us pay.”
South (10-4 overall) wasted little time proving its dominance as the Rebels posted a 28-18 advantage after one quarter and extended the lead by six more at halftime to make it a 50-34 game at the break.
Guard Courtney McKenzie led the way for the Rebels with 18 points, while sophomore post Kayla Tipton added 16 and 12 rebounds. The rest of the Rebels scoring saw Brayden Hutchins with 13, and both Morgan Seymore and Kelsie George each adding 10.
South’s lead ballooned to 74-48 at the end of the third period as the Rebels outscored the Rangers 24-14 in the stanza.
Junior point guard Alicia Colbaugh led all scorers with 19 points for the Lady Rangers, while Kassie Winters added 15 and Brittany Lawson added 11.
The Rangers shot just 2-for-15 from range while South connected on six-of-10 long range shots.
“Every time we would make a little run they would get a big shot,” Wright said. “They hit a lot of three pointers and we struggled. I thought that Kassie and Jessie struggled to make the threes.
“I trust their decisions to shoot the three, they have the green light. Kassie has been one of those players that until this tournament — her shots have been falling with ease — but she’s in a funk the last few games and she has to shoot her way out of it.”
David Crockett ………………………………………52
Johnson County …………………………………….50
Crockett’s Kelsey Persinger hit a baseline shot at the buzzer to give the Lady Pioneers a hard-fought win over the Lady Longhorns.
Johnson County led at halftime by a point at 21-20, but the third period saw Crockett make an adjustment and press the Longhorns, forcing several turnovers as the Pioneers took a 39-35 lead after three quarters.
“We had some turnovers,” said Lady Longhorns head coach Todd Whittemore. “In the third quarter, especially. We had been doing a good job against it, but they turned us over in the third.”
The Lady ’Horns showed they would be in this one for the duration as they began a steady comeback in the fourth quarter.
After a 3-pointer by Crockett’s Heather Scalf, Brooke Brown got two back for JC with a bucket — then Sarah Swift hit one of two from the line to make it a 42-38 contest.
Swift got her own rebound off the missed free throw and banked in a deuce to cut the lead to just 42-40. Scalf found the bottom of the well on another trey just moments later as the Pioneers extended to a 45-40 lead with 4:07 remaining.
Persinger hit a two for Crockett but post Brionna Reece got that one back for JC and followed that with a 2-for-2 from the charity stripe to make it a 49-44 game at the 1:12 mark.
After an exchange of free throws, JC made its move as Brown hit a deuce and than banged home a three to knot the score at 50 with just eight ticks left.
That set up the thrilling finish after a Crockett timeout, as the Pioneers inbounded near midcourt and Persinger slipped around a high post screen and nailed her shot which went through as the buzzer sounded.
“They hit some big shots,” Whittemore explained. “Every time we would come back they found a way to hit a dagger. We gave up some dribble penetration that we shouldn’t have, but give them credit they knocked down some big shots including the last one.”
Scalf scored a team-leading 15 points for Crockett while Persinger added 13.
Brown led all scorers with 21 points for JC while Reece added 16 and eight boards.
“I got set up for my shot by a screen,” said Brown. “If it hadn’t been for that I wouldn’t have been able to hit that shot. They pressured us a lot in the third quarter, but we have to be strong with the dribble and always look for the open player.”