Johnson, Lady Tornado Set New Highs in Win Over Erskine
BRISTOL, Tenn. – The juices were flowing through the veins of the King women's basketball team in their final regular season game of the season. Friday night, the Lady Tornado sunk the Flying Fleet of Erskine College while accumulating a season-high 79 points in their win. Led by junior guard Brooke Johnson, King went on to a 79-53 win, their largest of the season.
Erskine started off strong, beginning the game on a 15-4 run in the opening 3:30 of play while feeding Tara Potter down low early. Erskine's Porsha Morgan ran the floor, stirring up the Tornado as she split the defense for quick layups and made several quick step-back shots from beyond the arc. The tides began to turn as the Lady Tornado began chipping away at the 10-point lead just under the nine-minute mark, ending on a 15-4 run to close out the half.
A dual effort between Brooke Johnson (Roan Mountain, Tenn.) and Kelly Jackson (Lynchburg, Va.) cut the Flying Fleet lead to six, before another grueling jolt by Potter rose Erskine back to a double-digit lead. Quick kick outs by Alley Sprouse (Newport, Tenn.) helped Johnson and Jackson drop the Fleet to a one-point margin with four minutes left to play in the half. A knock down, three-point jumper by Jana Gross (Dayton, Ohio) gave the Lady Tornado a big spark towards the end of the half, before yet another dish to Potter.
The Fleet led until the last seconds of the half when Jackson sunk one final shot to tie the game going into the locker rooms with a 29-29 draw. Both teams scored 14 points in the paint, as it was second-chance points that gave the Tornado an opportunity for their incredible breakout, outscoring the opposition 12-5 in the ensuring 20 minutes in that category.
The second half was taken over early on by Johnson, driving to the basket and closing the Fleet defense for open looks to Kalen Collins. Johnson scored an impressive 19 second-half points, drowning the Fleet with her five field goals and shooting 8-for-11 from the line.
Joint defensive efforts by Sprouse and Jackson halted the Fleet, combining for five blocks to join Johnson and Collins' relentless attacks. The Tornado never ceased fire, forcing the Fleet into eight second-half turnovers, scoring 12 points from them.
Never letting off the gas, the Tornado closed out the game with a 50-point second half, defeating the Fleet 79-53. Their 79 points set season-high, single-game point total, out doing their previous 71-point shootout against St. Andrews on Feb. 4.
Brooke Johnson set a season-high with 27 points and added five assists plus four rebounds in the victory. Senior guard Jana Gross tallied her fourth consecutive double-digit effort to close out her career with 12 points against Erskine on a 4-for-8 shooting night from behind the arc. Alley Sprouse recorded her fourth double-double of the year and her third consecutive such effort with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Kelly Jackson rounded out the four double-digit scorers with 14 points to go along with four assists, six rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Senior Kalen Collins (Wise, Va.) was one point and one rebound short of a double-double. She shot for nine points, all of which came in the second-half.
Leading the way for Erskine was Porsha Morgan with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting, though she gifted six turnovers to the Lady Tornado. Elizabeth Tatum (15) and Tara Potter (12) each scored in double digits for the Fleet while Jana Dixon led the team with 11 rebounds, nine coming in the first half.
Despite the win, King (5-21, 5-13) will not advance to the Conference Carolinas Tournament, just barely missing out on the final spot in the West Division by virtue of a tiebreaker. Lees-McRae snuck into the No. 4 spot in the West, holding a divisional record one game better than King.
Brooke Johnson finished as the team's leading scorer this season, averaging 11.7 points per game and tallying 304 total points over 26 games. Alley Sprouse ends an outstanding freshman campaign with 220 points, averaging 9.6 per game and taking down 6.1 boards per contest.
Jana Gross' completes her collegiate career having served as a key player at the guard position on both sides of the ball, sprouting up into a starting spot by season's end. She averaged 4.5 points per game and led the team in steals with 36.
*Note: Though a senior, Kalen Collins has one year of collegiate eligibility remaining with plans on returning to play next season.