First-year coach Kevin Martin of the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team has not been able to find an easy solution for what on the surface may seem to be a simple problem.

First-year coach Kevin Martin of the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team has not been able to find an easy solution for what on the surface may seem to be a simple problem.

He is trying to solve the slow starts plaguing his team. That sluggish trend never was more apparent than Jan. 17 in a 74-60 loss to visiting MBC-rival Loudonville. The Johnnies trailed 21-7 after one period and 43-18 at halftime.

"We need to be concentrate for four quarters and come out and play consistent in the first half," said Martin, whose team had lost three in a row before facing MBC-rival Centerburg last Friday. "We've been digging ourselves into a hole and we have just been running out of time. We need to maintain that (second-half) intensity for the entire game."

Martin said getting players ready to play from the tipoff is not simple because every player has a different mindset.

"When I was in high school (at Westerville North) I was constantly thinking about what was coming up in the game, and then in college (at North Carolina-Asheville) after the pregame meal it was the same thing," Martin said. "I was always the kind of guy who liked to get there early and have some time to get some shots in as early as I could.

"I told those guys that everyone has different ways of getting ready to play and that they need to take time to think about what's going to happen out on the court that night. I try to get them thinking about getting inside the game and the things that may happen."

Martin even has shaken up practice in an effort to get his team ready from the moment it takes the court.

"I'm trying to figure out why we start slow," he said. "I've changed practice around to where we have high-intensity drills early to get us ready to go. We need to get to the mentality of being ready to play when we take the court."

One thing that makes Martin optimistic is the makeup of his team. He said the players usually are quick to welcome changes.

"With everything we have done on offense and defense, whenever we tweak things, they pick it up quickly," Martin said. "They really work hard and come ready to learn every day in practice."

Against Loudonville, Riley Cannon had with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Jake Hollis scored 13 points and Cody Green had 12.

Last Tuesday, Johnstown lost to MBC-rival Utica 45-38 despite 18 points and 15 rebounds from Cannon.

"The thing is, we've only played 10 games (before last Friday) to this point in the season and that means we'll have 10 more to play in 29 days," Martin said. "We have a lot of basketball ahead of us.

ĽKeith Tanner won the title at 135 pounds and more for the wrestling team Jan. 17 at the Thornville Sheridan Invitational.

The senior went 5-0 with four pins for as the Johnnies finished second (195 points) behind the host Generals (254.5). But Tanner also was named the event's Most Valuable Wrestler.

Johnstown had five champions at Sheridan, with the others being Ross Sandridge (5-0, four pins) at 130, Chris Block (4-0) at 140, Scott Robinson (5-0, three pins) at 140 and Cody Bracken (5-0, four pins) at 152. Austin Montgomery (4-1, four pins) was third at 189.

Block won his 150th high school match at Sheridan and had a career record of 153-31 after a pair of wins during MBC duals against Fredericktown and East Knox last Wednesday at Northridge.

The Johnnies beat East Knox 48-21 and Fredericktown 44-24 to move to 4-2 in the MBC. They lost to Loudonville 44-33 and Utica 39-33 on Dec. 17. Next in the league for Johnstown will be the MBC tournament Feb. 14 at Utica.

"(The MBC duals) help us to see what the other teams have and to help us be prepared when we go to the league meet," coach Brad Todd said. "We lost to Loudonville and Utica, who both had a lot of experience coming back and we had several unproven wrestlers. They were young and inexperienced guys, but we really can't worry about anything but getting ready for the second half of the season, which starts with the MBC and goes into the postseason tournaments."