Lady 'Dogs dispose of Johnson Co.

By Matt Hill

   The Hampton Lady Bulldogs didn't want to fool around with their postseason lives on Friday night.
   Hampton raced out to a 27-9 halftime lead, then cruised to a 52-30 victory over the Johnson County Lady Longhorns in the play-in game of the District 1-AA Girls Tournament at Treadway Gym.
   Hampton came out of the gate with three first quarter treys, and made sure that it wasn't going to be tested by the Lady Longhorns for the third time this season.
   "We said we didn't have one possession to waste or one minute to relax," Hampton head coach Leslie Campbell said. "We wanted to come out and get started on the right foot. Coming off a win last night, it's helped push us a little bit. Tournament time, you're a little more fired up than usual.
   "We want to make a difference in this tournament. They want to, and that's the biggest difference right now."
   The Lady Bulldogs set the tone early with the play of talented sophomore point guard Heather Chambers, who scored nine first quarter points.
   "We wanted to get in there and have some fun," Chambers said. "We wanted to get this game and get it wrapped up. We showed real heart, and people off the bench really came off and did their job, too. That takes everybody."
   It was a strong defensive effort as well for the Lady Bulldogs, as during a stretch between the end of the first quarter and the start of the third quarter, the Lady Longhorns went almost 11 minutes without a field goal.
   Johnson County was a different team than the previous two times due to injures, but Campbell says her squad didn't take the Longhorns lightly.
   "We played real well against Cloudland Monday, and that got us going," she said. "Then Tuesday and Wednesday at practice, we went over one or two things with North, but our mindset was Johnson County. We went through the North game, but we still had Johnson County on our mind. I'm pleased with them and I'm proud of them."
   Despite trailing by 18 points at halftime, the Lady Longhorns didn't go away easily in the second half.
   Johnson County cut Hampton's advantage down to 27-14 in the opening minutes of the third quarter, and looked like it might make a run.
   However, Hampton freshman Jessi Price, who topped the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points, pretty much took over the third quarter with several key buckets to help push her team's lead back to a more comfortable margin.
   "Points aren't everything, but if they needed somebody to step up, I was there to do it," Price said.
   Chambers finished with 10 points, while Jessica Tolley added nine points and seven rebounds to the Lady Dogs' cause.
   Nikki Davidson topped Johnson County with 12 points.
   The Lady Longhorns' rough season came to an end on Friday night.
   Injures to key players contributed to what was a year that Johnson County head coach Eric Crabtree wants to forget.
   "As far as effort, they plugged away every game," Crabtree said. "We've been through more than any team I have ever been associated with. My seniors stuck it through night in and night out. I've never had a season like this. I wish the best for them. I'm just so disappointed in how the season should have been. It could have been a world's difference.
   "I just didn't get the job done. I'll take full credit. I just didn't get the job done."
   Crabtree played a lot of freshmen and sophomores this year, so he's hoping that a more experienced team will mean better things to come for Lady Longhorn basketball.
   "By no means are we going to be in the same boat next year," he said. "These girls are going to mature. We've got some from eighth grade coming up that will give this team a better identity. They've been together forever, we've just got to have a great off-season. We've got to get stronger, faster, better. Mentally, physically, fundamentally, we've got to improve ten-fold by next year."