Lady 'Landers bust loose in third quarter

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Johnson County Lady Longhorns pulled out a good first half of basketball against Cloudland Friday night.
   Trailing by eight going into the third quarter, it appeared as though they might have the Lady Highlanders' number. It was not to be.
   Cloudland bounced out in the third quarter with a 22-5 margin in their favor, helping them outmuscle Johnson County in a 66-37 victory at Smith Gymnasium.
   "We played pretty consistent in the first half," said Johnson County coach Eric Crabtree. "In the second half we didn't control the ball. We didn't control it offensively or defensively, rebounds and turnovers killed us.
   The Lady Highlanders were 23 of 81 shooting on the night, and it seemed to hurt the squad early.
   "We didn't play real well," said Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield. "We shot horrible. We didn't play our style, but we came out ahead. I guess you can get a win anyway you can get one. We didn't have the intensity we needed to."
   Cloudland opened up with a pair of buckets a piece from Tara Hanson, Stachia Johnson, Amy Storie, and April Williams. However, the Lady Longhorns got some things going behind the stellar play of Courtney Shaw and Nikki Davidson.
   Davidson and Elena Owens helped power Johnson County's second quarter efforts with help inside from Ryan Tillman. Williams' play helped Cloudland stall the Lady 'Horns at an eight-point deficit.
   The second half was painted in blue and gold early.
   Cloudland had a continued solid effort from Hanson, Storie and Williams while Nikki Webb and Holly Blair provided a good touch of defense.
   Laura Peters and Shaw helped Johnson County power back in the fourth quarter, but a pair of treys from Stachia Johnson helped put the contest away.
   The first half was a boost of confidence for the Lady Longhorns, and it provided a good look of positive things for the future.
   Said Crabtree: "We got some things to build on, and we're still adjusting and working to get there. We just gotta learn as we go, and we are. We showed signs tonight that we are improving. We've just got to keep working at it, and get better slower and surely."
   Rebounds were a big key in the game for Cloudland, as April Williams, Amy Storie and Tara Hanson all had double digits in that aspect of the game.
   "I thought April and Amy came in on the boards, both had over ten," Birchfield said. "Tara played well, and she had ten offensive rebounds.
   "Some of the kids came off the bench and played well for us. "Freshman (Heather) Banner gave us some good minutes. We played in spurts tonight, just got to put a game together."
   Cloudland plays undefeated Indian Pines out of Pinehurst, North Carolina in the Watauga Christmas Tournament in Boone, North Carolina next week.
   Johnson County's next game is on January 3 with a home stand against Hampton.