Coach Kevin Martin has seen this before.

Coach Kevin Martin has seen this before.

For the second consecutive season, the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys basketball team lost two of its first three games.

The Johnnies more than made up for their slow start last year, and Martin hopes they follow the same path this winter.

"We had a tough schedule just like we did last year, and that helped prepare us for the league," Martin said. "We have played three quality teams, and all three of them would be in the top of our league if they played in it. Seeing that kind of competition is great for us."

The Johnnies were 1-2 overall before opening LCL play Dec. 11 against Lakewood. Last season, they started 1-2 only to build momentum and win 13 consecutive games before eventually losing to Columbus South 44-35 in overtime in a Division II district final.

Last year, Johnstown opened by losing to DeSales 40-29 and to Northridge 51-45 before defeating Newark Catholic 64-58. In January, Northridge was forced to forfeit the victory for using an ineligible player.

The Johnnies lost their opener this season to Dayton Chaminade Julienne, falling 53-44 in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic on Nov. 27 at Wilmington College. They then defeated South 61-58 on Dec. 2 and lost to DeSales 55-50 on Dec. 8.

Senior Jason Carter was averaging 15 points through three games, including scoring 19 against DeSales. Junior Kyle Matoszkia was averaging 14.3 points and had 14 against the Stallions.

Carter had 13 first-half points against DeSales to help the Johnnies build a 27-21 lead. Carter and Matoszkia picked up their third fouls less than a minute apart in the third quarter, and that contributed to the Stallions going on a 17-2 run to lead 44-37 entering the fourth.

"We got into foul trouble in the third quarter and that allowed our inexperience to show," Martin said. "We lost the intensity that we had early in the game. (The Stallions) came out battling in the second half and we let them gain the advantage."

Martin said his team will only improve as the season progresses.

"We had four good practices coming into this (DeSales) game and we're getting better," he said. "We're working together to improve on both ends of the floor. We're getting better as we go."

Girls basketball team finds scoring balance

A balanced scoring attack helped the girls basketball team win five of its first six games.

The Johnnies were 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the LCL before playing Granville on Dec. 12.

Maddi Lusk was averaging a team-high 14.8 points, followed by Sammy Edwards (8.2) and Cheyenne Crawford (7.8).

Karaline Boso, Mallory Henson and Madi Layman also have made key contributions.

Layman scored eight points in a 50-47 win over Centerburg in the opener Nov. 21, and Boso and Henson led the Johnnies in scoring with nine points apiece in a 46-39 loss to Lakewood on Dec. 1.

Boso hit the game-clinching 3-pointer and finished with eight points as Johnstown beat Newark Catholic 35-31 on Dec. 4.

"We really have had good scoring balance," coach Carl Dufford said. "Mallory Henson hit a 3 and Karaline Boso hit a big 3 when we led by one (point) late to put us up (34-30) with two minutes to play. That gave us some breathing room.

Henson had nine points, all on 3-pointers, to help the Johnnies defeat Zanesville West Muskingum 62-55 on Dec. 7. Lusk scored 20 points, Crawford had 10 and Edwards added eight.

"We need to have balance. ... That's how we have to play," Dufford said. "We're working the ball around and getting it to whoever has the best opportunity to score."

Two wrestlers win at DeSales

Hayden Bullard and Dakota Ramey won their weight classes for the wrestling team in the season-opening Tony Pizzurro Memorial Classic on Dec. 5 at DeSales.

Ramey won the 132-pound championship and Bullard won at 138. Chase Sigman was fourth at 195.

The Johnnies scored 70 points to finish sixth of nine teams behind champion Olentangy Liberty (289).

Also competing for Johnstown were freshmen Jacob Bowers (138) and Tristan Bush (152).

"We had a couple of freshmen who got their first taste of varsity wrestling, which is always quite an experience," coach Bob Fresch said. "I had Jacob Bowers wrestle as a second 138-pounder because I didn't want him to go in wrestling light at 145. It's tough enough to wrestle in your first meet without giving up weight."