HOWARD — The Johnstown High School girls basketball team proved the definition of a comeback Monday night. Down by as many as 10 points, the Johnnies came roaring back to defeat East Knox, 53-45, in a key Mid-Buckeye Conference battle.
“This was a huge win,” said Johnstown head coach Connie Allen. “East Knox has been playing everyone so close. You hate to see a team lose just by a little bit; I have been in that situation before. They are a great team. This was a really good win for us.”
The game started out all East Knox. The Bulldogs jumped out big and dominated the first quarter. At the end of the first quarter East Knox was up, 12-4, and it looked as if the game could quickly get ugly. The Johnnies came back in the second quarter, but East Knox still held a 22-18 lead going into halftime. The Bulldogs got 12 of their 22 first-half points from Sierra Mazzaro, and Johnstown had to shut her down as soon as it could.
“I think we had a little bit of what you could call a hangover from our last game,” said Allen. “We didn’t come prepared to play. We need to learn to adjust to what the other team is doing.
“Defensively, we let them drive by us. I think once we stepped back and did not allow them to get the lanes to the basket, we did much better.”
Johnstown was patient in the second half and used a balanced scoring attack to slowly pull back into the game. With 33 seconds left in the third quarter the Johnnies took their first lead of the game at 33-31; the rest of the contest was a battle.
Johnstown’s Chelsea Cannon worked her way to the post and outmuscled East Knox. Consistently getting to the foul line, she also got East Knox into serious foul trouble. Cannon hit 12 of her 14 second-quarter foul shots en route to a 19-point performance, and was a big reason Johnstown pulled off the come-from-behind victory.
“We haven’t shot the ball real well from the outside,” said Allen. “A lot of our scoring has come from our post play and the free-throw line. We were 22-of-29 from the free-throw line tonight; 75 percent is by far the best of the year for us. That was huge, it was key to the victory. We scored 53 points and 22 of them came from the line. That’s what we need to have when we aren’t making our outside shots.”
The game was yet another devastatingly close loss for the East Knox squad.
“This is killing me,” said East Knox head coach Daryl Uhde. “We play great for three quarters of a game and all of a sudden we panic. We throw the ball out of bounds and just turn the ball over. I am not sure what else to do. We are so close; we just can’t seem to get it.”
Cannon led Johnstown with 19 points; Michelle Fairchild scored 13 points and Chelsea Sager had nine points. East Knox got 15 points from Mazzaro and Megan Morris added 14 points.