A slow start doomed the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team in its quest for an MBC title.
The Johnnies were 6-for-31 shooting (19.4 percent) in the first half of a 55-32 loss to league-leading Fredericktown on Feb. 5. They trailed 12-5 after one quarter and 24-14 at halftime.
Johnstown had won three consecutive games and six of seven before losing to the Freddies.
"We missed some good shots early that we would normally make," coach Kevin Martin said. "We missed too many transition baskets and couldn't stop the landslide, but (the Freddies) are a good team and that played into it."
Johnstown was 11-8 overall and 8-4 in the MBC before playing Loudonville on Feb. 8. The Johnnies were third in the league behind Fredericktown (11-1) and Danville (8-3) and ahead of Utica (7-4), Centerburg (6-6), Northridge (4-8), East Knox (2-10) and Loudonville (1-11).
"We're not at Fredericktown's level yet," Martin said. "If things don't go the way you want them to early, it can be tough. We shot poorly early and that's tough on you against a good team like Fredericktown."
Senior post player Tim Sayer led Johnstown with eight points against the Freddies. Senior guard J.D. Arnold and freshman forward Jason Carter each scored six points.
Junior guard William Orr, who scored a career-high 33 points in a 66-53 win over Centerburg on Feb. 1, was held scoreless against Fredericktown.
"(Orr) didn't get many good looks (against Fredericktown) and the ones that he did get were contested," Martin said. "He was coming off a big game against Centerburg, so I'm sure they had a concerted effort not to give him any good looks."
Against the Trojans, Orr was 6-for-6 on 3-point attempts. Sophomore guard Cody Farley added 11 points.
The Johnnies close the regular season Friday, Feb. 15, at Northridge. They won the first matchup 58-54 in overtime Jan. 11 as Orr led with 24 points. Junior guard Justin Bush and Sayer both had 10 points.
Girls basketball team to open with Academy
The girls basketball team was 16-4 overall before playing Northridge on Feb. 9.
Johnstown entered the game tied for first in the MBC with Utica at 11-2. Centerburg (9-3) was third and Fredericktown (9-4) was fourth. Centerburg played Utica on Feb. 9 and has a makeup game with East Knox on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
The Johnnies are seeded third in the Division III district tournament behind Africentric and North Union. Johnstown plays host to North Union on Thursday, Feb. 14, in its regular-season finale.
"(Getting ready for the postseason) was part of the whole plan of beefing up our schedule," coach Carl Dufford said. "We played Ready (66-53 loss Jan. 22) and (the Silver Knights) lost by two points to North Union (57-55 on Dec. 15). We have five really strong teams in (our portion of the district bracket) and any one of those five could get out to regional."
To stay away from defending state champion and top-seeded Africentric, the next four seeds -- North Union, Johnstown, fourth-seeded Fredericktown and fifth-seeded Liberty Union -- went to the opposite bracket. Other high-seeded teams in the Johnnies' bracket are No. 8 Ready and No. 11 Fairbanks.
"I really appreciated that we got the third seed," Dufford said. "It made me feel good because it's voted on by the coaches and that they are supportive of our program and feel that we are one of the better programs in the district. That says a lot about the hard work our girls have put in."
The Johnnies open the postseason Saturday, Feb. 16, at home against 20th-seeded Columbus Academy. The winner plays host to 22nd-seeded Horizon Science on Feb. 21 in a second-round game.
Academy was 3-17 after defeating Lakewood 37-23 on Feb. 6. Johnstown defeated Lakewood 77-24 on Jan. 9.
Last season, the Johnnies lost to Africentric 93-54 in a Division III district final. They defeated Ready 62-52 in the first round, Columbus School for Girls 62-13 in the second round and Madison Plains 64-54 in a district semifinal.
Wrestlers preparing for sectional tourney
The wrestling team competed in the Nye Cardinal Classic on Feb. 9 at St. Charles.
The Johnnies will compete in a Division III sectional tournament Friday, Feb. 15, and Saturday, Feb. 16, at Madison Plains. The top four individuals in each weight class will advance to district Feb. 22 and 23 at Duncan Falls Philo.
Last season in a Division III sectional at Madison Plains, 2012 graduate Joey Dismuke finished second at 195 pounds and was the only Johnstown competitor to advance to district. The Johnnies were 11th (36) of 14 teams, behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (237).
On Feb. 2, Johnstown were sixth (132) in the MBC Duals behind Northridge (395), Loudonville (235), Centerburg (231), Utica (184) and host Fredericktown (138) and ahead of Danville (131) and East Knox (65).
The Johnnies had no champions, but junior Clayton Bullard (195), junior Alex Workman (170) and freshman Hayden Bullard (120) finished second. Freshman Ryan Thacker (106) placed third, and junior Logan Writesel (160) and sophomore Cody Thompson (145) both were fourth.
Grassman to play football at Buffalo
Johnstown-Monroe High School senior Corbin Grassman signed Feb. 6 to play football for the University at Buffalo.
Grassman played linebacker and tight end and was the long snapper for the Johnnies, who finished 10-3 overall last fall after losing to St. Clairsville 37-29 in the Division IV, Region 15 final. Johnstown finished second (6-1) in the MBC behind Danville (7-0).
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Grassman was first-team all-state, all-district and all-league. He led the Johnnies in tackles (131) and had four sacks. He also had 10 receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown.