One point and one-tenth of a second were the difference when the Johnstown-Monroe High School girls basketball team lost to visiting Newark Catholic 60-59 on Jan. 16 in a battle for the LCL lead.
Ashleigh Parkinson made a pair of free throws with 8.6 seconds remaining to give Newark Catholic the lead. Johnstown's Maddi Lusk then took the inbounds pass and passed to Paige Cannon, who raced the length of the court and put up a 6-foot jumper that went off the rim and out of bounds off a Green Wave player with .1 on the clock.
Laiken Valentine had her inbounds pass swatted back by Parkinson to end the game, as the state's top-ranked team in Division IV moved a game ahead of the Johnnies in the LCL standings.
"Games like this ... it's what you play for," said coach Carl Dufford, whose team was 11-2 overall and 9-2 in the LCL before playing Utica on Jan. 18. "You have a great turnout from both schools, and you have a great game. It was an atmosphere like we had at Worthington Christian and Logan in the postseason last year. Obviously, we would have liked to have been on the other end, but it was a great game."
Newark Catholic, which improved to 11-2 overall and 10-1 in the LCL, held the Johnnies without a field goal for 5:21 beginning midway through the third quarter and spilling into the fourth. The Green Wave built a 52-42 lead with 5:04 to play before Johnstown rallied.
"That really shows the leadership of our seniors and that they will never ever give up, even if they are down by 10 points or more," said Dufford, whose team's other loss was at Newark Catholic 60-54 on Dec. 5. "They knew they were still in the game."
Newark Catholic made 16 of 20 free throws and the Johnnies went 9-for-15.
Cannon led Johnstown with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Makenzie Spang had 15 points and Natalie Carpenter scored 13.
Valentine scored nine points, starting at point guard after missing eight games with a micro-tear in a calf and knee. The senior played sparingly Jan. 11 in a 54-18 win over Northridge. Against the Green Wave, she alternated intervals of playing and riding a stationary bike behind the bench to keep her leg from tightening up.
"Laiken wasn't supposed to return until the first of February, but she worked really hard to get back," Dufford said. "We were fortunate to have Maddi Lusk, who did a great job of filling in for (Valentine)."
Carpenter scored 24 points against Northridge. Cannon had 11, Kerrigan Williams scored seven and Spang added six.
Through 12 games, Carpenter was averaging 19.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals. Cannon was averaging 14.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.9 steals, and Spang was averaging 13.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks.
Boys basketball team takes LCL challenge
The boys basketball team was tied with Newark Catholic for first in the LCL at 9-1 when the teams played Jan. 17.
The Johnnies had to run a gauntlet of league games recently, starting with a 72-52 win over Northridge on Jan. 14. One day later, they needed overtime to defeat Licking Heights 57-54.
"We haven't played back-to-back games all year, so that was a test for us," said coach Kevin Martin, whose team was 12-1 overall before playing Newark Catholic. "Then we (had) the game with Newark Catholic two days later, so this (was) a big week for us."
The Johnnies almost let a victory get away from them at Licking Heights, as the Hornets ended the fourth quarter on a 10-1 run to send the game to overtime tied at 52. Will Orr made a pair of free throws with 13.1 seconds left in overtime for the final margin.
Orr finished with 19 points, Justin Bush scored 10 and Cody Farley added nine.
Against Northridge, Orr scored 28 points with three 3-pointers and eight rebounds, while Jason Carter had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Farley had seven points and four rebounds, and Jake Taylor had six points and three steals.
"I thought we did a good job in gaps and in gap defense," Martin said. "We struggle at times guarding the ball, but I thought we were better."
On Jan. 11, Carter scored 25 points while making 13 of 17 free-throw attempts and Orr scored 24 points with three 3s as Johnstown defeated Heath 67-48.
Wrestlers set for state team tourney
The wrestling team opens the Division III state team tournament Wednesday, Jan. 22, against ninth-seeded Africentric in the preliminary round of Region 21-A at Hartley. The Johnnies are seeded eighth.
The winner advances to face top-seeded Hartley in the first round following the opening dual, with that winner facing fourth-seeded Liberty Union or fifth-seeded Ready in the second round that same evening.
The second-round winner advances to a Region 21 semifinal Jan. 29 at a site to be determined.
Last season, the Johnnies were seeded eighth in Region 22-A and lost their opener to ninth-seeded Fredericktown 30-28.
On Jan. 11, the Johnnies finished 10th (91) of 10 teams in the Larry Remmert Invitational at Thornville Sheridan behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (323).
Clayton Bullard won the 195-pound weight class and earned the Jay White Outstanding Wrestler Award. Colton Hiles (152) won the David Flowers Sportsmanship Award.
Hayden Bullard was runner-up at 132, and Aaron Davis (220) and Dakota Ramey (120) both placed fifth. Vince Walls (126) finished sixth.