Despite a second LCL loss, the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team still had control of its destiny in the chase for the league title.
Before playing Licking Heights on Feb. 7, the Johnnies were 16-2 overall and tied with Granville for the top spot in the LCL at 13-2. Newark Catholic was third at 12-3.
Johnstown had its second game against Granville postponed because of bad weather Jan. 28. The teams will meet Friday, Feb. 14, at Johnstown, with the Johnnies looking to avenge a 55-30 loss on Dec. 17.
"(The Blue Aces) have a really good basketball team and they match up well with us," coach Kevin Martin said. "They took us out of the game early (in the first meeting), and we didn't respond well to that.
"That hasn't happened often, and it may sound boring, but we're taking things one game at a time and hopefully will be playing for a (league) championship."
The Johnnies lost their second game with a 41-40 setback to Licking Valley on Jan. 31. They led 15-5 after one quarter, but only 22-20 at halftime.
"We talked after that game about having to play hard for 32 minutes and not have mental breakdowns," Martin said. "We led by 12 points in the second quarter and let (the Panthers) finish on a 10-0 run to end the half and we only led by two.
"We had opportunity after opportunity to close out, and didn't. We would have liked things to go differently, but we still are tied for first in the league and as long as we take care of business we will be OK."
Johnstown's other remaining league game is Tuesday, Feb. 11, at Heath.
Will Orr led the Johnnies against Licking Valley with 18 points and four 3-pointers. Justin Bush had 11 points and Jason Carter scored nine.
The Johnnies bounced back with a 49-44 win at Lakewood on Feb. 4. Carter led with 14 points, Bush had eight, Jake Taylor scored seven and Cody Blevins added six.
"We had a lot of guys contribute for us when Will had a bit of an off night (with five points)," Martin said. "A lot of guys did a lot of good things.
"We had 15 offensive rebounds, and a lot for those came from our role players."
Girls basketball team receives top seed
The girls basketball team earned the top seed in the Division II district tournament and opens the postseason Feb. 17 at home against 22nd-seeded Marion-Franklin.
"We were pleased to get the first seed," said coach Carl Dufford, whose team was 18-2 overall and 14-2 in the LCL before playing Heath on Feb. 8. "We weren't sure what to expect, being in a new division (after previously competing in Division III)."
Eastmoor Academy is the second seed and chose to be in the same bracket as the Johnnies, meaning the teams could meet in a district final.
"I would have done the same thing had we been the second seed because we both wanted to go to the Springfield regional," Dufford said. "We both wanted to stay away from (top-ranked Millersburg) West Holmes and felt going through Springfield was our best bet."
On Feb. 6, Johnstown defeated Licking Heights 58-49, but Newark Catholic clinched at least share of the LCL title with a 64-48 win over Granville. The Johnnies play Granville on Tuesday, Feb. 11, while the Green Wave closed LCL play Feb. 8 against Lakewood.
The Johnnies defeated Walnut Ridge 72-44 on Feb. 4. Natalie Carpenter and Makenzie Spang both scored 23 points, Paige Cannon had 16 and Maddi Lusk added eight.
The Johnnies beat Lakewood 65-34 on Feb. 1 in LCL play. Carpenter had 18 points with four 3-pointers and Spang had 13 points. Cannon and Lusk both scored nine points and Laiken Valentine and Kerrigan Williams both had eight.
Against Licking Heights, Cannon scored 23 points, Carpenter had 17 and Spang added 12.
Though 18 games, Carpenter was averaging 19.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals. Cannon was averaging 15.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 3.3 steals, and Spang was averaging 13.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 2.1 assists.
Wrestlers prepare for sectional tourney
The wrestling team competed in the Nye Cardinal Classic on Feb. 8 at St. Charles.
The postseason begins Saturday, Feb. 15, with a Division II sectional at Madison Plains. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the district tournament Feb. 21 and 22 at Uhrichsville Claymont.
Last season, the Johnnies competed in a Division III sectional at Madison Plains and tied Grandview for 10th (69) of 14 teams behind champion Amanda-Clearcreek (258). Clayton Bullard won the 195-pound title.
In the LCL tournament Feb. 1 at Licking Heights, Bullard won the championship at 195 as the Johnnies finished ninth (102) of 10 teams behind champion Granville (309).
Hayden Bullard (132) was third and Vince Walls (126) placed fourth. Aaron Davis (220) was seventh and Colton Hiles (152) placed eighth.