Kurt Sammons was dressed like a basketball player but played like a football player inside for the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team last Tuesday.

Kurt Sammons was dressed like a basketball player but played like a football player inside for the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team last Tuesday.

The senior scored 22 points to lead the Johnnies past Mount Gilead 44-35 in the first round of the Division III district tournament at Mount Vernon.

"Kurt's going to college to play football, so being the tournament he knows that every game could be his last organized basketball game," said coach Kevin Martin, whose team improved to 9-12 overall and advanced to play top-seeded Hartley last Friday in the second round. "He played like he wasn't ready to quit playing basketball."

Sammons, a power forward, is 6-foot-1, but he was listed on the football roster at 215 pounds. He made his presence known inside.

"Coach said the team that won the battle in the paint would win the game," said Sammons, who also had four rebounds. "I wanted to do everything I could to make sure we won that."

His partner inside, 6-4 center Riley Cannon, had 11 points, 12 rebounds and three steals.

Martin said one of the keys for his team was playing an aggressive man-to-man defense.

"We have been playing a lot of zone in the last month, so it was nice to get out into the man," Martin said. "We came out and played a heck of a game defensively."

Shawn Block had nine rebounds, Jake Hollis had four assists and Jay Orders had four steals.

The winner last Friday will play Heath or Fredericktown in a district semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Fairgrounds Coliseum. The Freddies were 9-12 before playing Heath last Friday and split with the Johnnies this season, winning 65-58 on Jan. 13 and losing 35-30 on Feb. 6. Heath, which beat Johnstown 69-57 on Dec. 22, had a first-round bye and was 13-8 before last Friday.

The district final will be at 6 p.m. March 12 at the Fairgrounds against sixth-seeded North Union, Ready, eighth-seeded Bloom-Carroll or Columbus Academy. The Johnnies have not played any of the four teams.

The Johnnies closed the regular season Feb. 20 with a 69-58 win over East Knox.

Cannon had 18 points and Michael Kessler, who missed last Tuesday's game with an illness, had 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Cody Green had 12 points and six assists, Sammons had 10 points and Order had nine rebounds.

•The wrestling team had six qualifiers to the Division III district tournament last Friday and Saturday at Steubenville. The top four in each weight class there qualified to state, which will be Thursday through Saturday at Ohio State.

The Johnnies finished fourth in the 16-team sectional Feb. 20-21 at Northridge with 149 points behind West Jefferson (256), Indian Valley (159) and Newark Catholic (155.5) and ahead of fifth-place East Knox (125). Winning titles were Keith Tanner (135 pounds), Chris Block (140) and Scott Robinson (145)

Robinson also won his 100th career match at sectional and entered district with 103 wins overall and a 48-2 record this season. Tanner was 43-1 before last Friday and Block was 48-0.

Austin Montgomery (189) was runner-up, Cody Bracken (152) was third and Ross Sandridge (130) was fourth. Montgomery was 37-9 before last Friday, Bracken was 44-3 and Sandridge was 21-5.

"To make it to state, you have to be mentally prepared," said Block, who was the Johnnies' only state-qualifier last year. "You can't take anyone lightly because if you let down, they're good enough to beat you."

Last year, Block finished third at district and went on to place seventh at state at 135.

•The girls basketball team finished 11-11 overall after falling to Grandview 48-40 last Wednesday in the second round of the Division III district tournament at Delaware.

The Johnnies led 26-25 at halftime, but Grandview broke Johnstown's full-court press to help turn the tide.

"We weren't being aggressive enough with our press," coach Connie Allen said. "We were kind of sitting back letting them dictate what they wanted to do, instead of us stepping up and making them having to make harder choices.

"When they would pass to the top, it was either we would get a steal or they would get a layup. We wanted focus more on our half-court defense and getting out on their shooters, which we still didn't do a great job of."

Chelsea Sager had 12 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots, Chelsea Cannon had 12 points, Michelle Fairchild had eight and Courtney Dingess had seven.

"We couldn't get anything to fall," Allen said.

"Once that ball starts rolling down that hill, it keeps going and going and it seemed like it kept piling up on us. We just couldn't fight back."