The Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team had a chance to win its first league championship since 2006 on Feb. 13 against Lakewood, but coach Kevin Martin said that wouldn't be enough for the Johnnies.

The Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team had a chance to win its first league championship since 2006 on Feb. 13 against Lakewood, but coach Kevin Martin said that wouldn't be enough for the Johnnies.

Martin said his team's goal is to win the league outright, which means the Johnnies still have some work ahead of them.

"We got some help from Lakewood, which beat Granville (44-42 in overtime Feb. 10)," said Martin, whose team was 15-3 overall before Feb. 13. "That gave us a two-game cushion with three (league) games left, but we don't want to share the title. We want to win it outright."

Before Feb. 13, Johnstown was 14-1 in the LCL, with Granville and Lakewood tied for second at 12-3. Licking Heights was fourth at 10-5.

The Johnnies won back-to-back MBC titles in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. Those were their first league championships since winning the LCL in 1980-81.

Jason Carter led the Johnnies with 19 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and three blocks in a 32-29 overtime win at Granville on Feb. 6. Both teams entered the game 12-1 in the league.

Martin said the grind-it-out style of play from that game should benefit the Johnnies moving forward.

"Every possession mattered and everyone was on edge every possession for four quarters," he said. "If one team would get a lead of four points or more, it would have been tough to stay in the game.

"(The Blue Aces) defended us well, but we didn't force much. We did a great job of finding the open shot and limiting them to one shot on the defensive end."

The Johnnies close LCL play with games Tuesday, Feb. 17, at Licking Heights and Friday, Feb. 20, at home against Heath. They defeated Licking Heights 47-42 on Jan. 16 as Carter had 25 points and 15 rebounds and Kaden Welch added 11 points.

On Jan. 20, Carter had 23 points to lead a 43-30 win over Heath, which was 9-6 in the LCL before Feb. 13.

Carter had 14 points and 12 rebounds in a 55-46 win over Licking Valley on Feb. 10 in league play. Cody Farley had 14 points and Jake Taylor added eight.

Through 18 games, Carter was averaging 19.8 points and 10.1 rebounds. Martin said others have been stepping up to help share the scoring burden with the 6-foot-6 junior forward.

"(Licking Valley) came out in a diamond-and-one zone (defense) the first time we played and (the Panthers) tried that again," Martin said. "It's tough to play when you have someone hanging on you like that the whole game. We scored 55 points against (Licking) Valley and we had some other kids help out.

"I'm comfortable with our starting five. Kaden Welch has the ability to knock down shots on the perimeter and Cody Farley has turned the corner offensively in the past couple of weeks. Travis Higgins is being aggressive and Jake Taylor has been doing the dirty work for us. I like how we are playing."

The Division II district tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 15. The Johnnies close the regular season Saturday, Feb. 21, at Columbus Academy.

Girls basketball teamfinishes 2nd in LCL

The girls basketball team improved to 17-4 overall by defeating Heath 58-43 on Feb. 11 to close LCL play.

The Johnnies finished second (16-2) in the league behind Newark Catholic (17-1). Lakewood was third (12-6) and Licking Valley and Watkins Memorial tied for fourth (11-7).

Johnstown is seeded third for the Division II district tournament and is in the bracket that doesn't include top-seeded Eastmoor Academy and second-seeded Centennial. The Johnnies' bracket includes fourth-seeded Beechcroft, fifth-seeded Lakewood and sixth-seeded Licking Valley.

"I don't think we could have asked for anything better from the draw," coach Carl Dufford said. "I think both Eastmoor and Centennial thought their best way to the (state tournament) was to go through (the) Zanesville (regional). We'll be playing for a chance to go to a regional in Springfield."

The Johnnies open the postseason Feb. 23 at home against 19th-seeded Columbus East. The winner plays Feb. 25 against 10th-seeded Columbus South at the home of the better seed.

"We decided not to take a first-round bye because of the layoff," Dufford said. "We would have had to sit for nine days off, which I think is too much. That's why we scheduled Worthington Christian for Monday (Feb. 16 in our regular-season finale). We would have liked to have them later in the week, but that was the best fit for their schedule."

Paige Cannon had 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Johnnies past Licking Heights 75-47 on Feb. 7 in league play. Maddi Lusk had 14 points, Kerrigan Williams had 13 points with four 3-pointers and Cheyenne Crawford added eight points.

Lusk scored 18 points and Williams had 16 with three 3s in a 57-37 LCL win over Heath on Feb. 11. Cannon had 10 points and Crawford added eight.

Wrestlers set forLCL tournament

The wrestling team competes in the LCL tournament Saturday, Feb. 21, at Licking Valley.

Last season, the Johnnies finished ninth (102 points) of 10 teams behind champion Granville (309). Hayden Bullard (132 pounds) was third, Vince Walls (126) placed fourth and Colton Hiles (152) was eighth.