JOHNSTOWN — A good word to describe Friday night’s boys basketball game between Johnstown High School and Ridgedale High School was exciting. The game went down to the wire, but the Johnnies used effective defensive play and key runs to down the Rockets and come away with a huge 39-36 win.
“It was a battle tonight,” said Johnstown coach Kevin Martin. “It was one of those games where you just have to be able to deal with the mistakes on the offensive end. I have been really preaching defense from day one. We have been really inconsistent with our defense effort, but tonight that is what won the game for us I think.”
Ridgedale jumped out early in the first quarter and held a five-point lead after the first eight minutes of play. The Johnnies ate away at Ridgedale’s lead and managed to tie the game up a 17 apiece by the halftime break.
“We needed to stay patient and stay in the game offensively,” Martin said. “We know that if we defend the way we are capable of defending we are going to be in games.”
The second half started out with two major runs. Johnstown roared out on a 8-0 run to start the third quarter and take a 25-17 lead. Ridgedale called a timeout and when it came back on the floor, it went on a 7-0 run. From then on, the game was back and forth until the end. Neither team was able to gain more than a three-point advantage and, by the buzzer, the Johnnies held that lead and came away with the win.
Holding Ridgedale to just 36 points was a very good sign for the Johnstown squad. In order to put together a good season, it will be forced to play strong defense.
“Our defense is going to be the difference in every game that we win,” said Martin. “The games we have won this year we have won on the defensive end. The guys are learning where they need to be on every possession and giving a consistent effort on that end of the floor. If we defend with effort and energy for 32 minutes, we might not win them all, but we will be in them.”
Riley Cannon led the way for the Johnnies with a strong performance. He came through with an impressive double-double, scoring 17 points with 16 rebounds. He added two blocks as well. Kurt Sammons added eight points in the Johnnies’ win. Ridgedale was led by Kyle Rose, who scored 17 points. Kyle Anderson chipped in 13 points.
Next up for Johnstown is another Mid-Buckeye Conference tilt versus Fredericktown at home on Tuesday. It promises to be a very defensive-oriented matchup.
“It’s going to be a game that was a lot like tonight,” Martin said. “It will be a defensive struggle, a halfcourt struggle. It’s going to be tough for us to score on them and hopefully tough for them to score on us. I am glad we have them at home first, they really get after it defensively.”
In junior varsity action Johnstown handled Ridgedale 44-35.