Greater Johnstown boys thump Juniata in Dist. 6-4A semi
Feb. 24—Not one player on the Greater Johnstown basketball roster had played in a postseason game prior to Thursday night, but the Trojans looked right at home in a playoff setting with a commanding 74-39 victory over Juniata High School in the District 6-4A semifinals.
Greater Johnstown did not see much resistance from the third-seeded Indians on Thursday, but after coach Ryan Durham watched a few minutes of the game, he thought that his team needed a spark and he found it from his bench.
Juniata grabbed an early 6-5 lead in the first quarter, but once the lineups changed, so did the game.
Greater Johnstown's first three off the bench: Dom Alberter, Amire Robinson and Turfollo Stallworth all scored baskets in the opening frame to help get the team going in the right direction and the Trojans never looked back from there.
Greater Johnstown's bench combined for 21 points in the game.
"I think our intensity really kicked up when we brought in our guys off the bench," Durham said after his team improved to 21-3 on the season. "I think the starters started a little slow and then when we started subbing and our first three guys off the bench came in, they just gave us a real spark and then it just bled into steals leading into easy offense."
The Trojans have been known to go on lengthy scoring runs, and the host team erased that initial 6-5 deficit thanks to an 18-5 spurt to close out the first quarter. Juniata coach Al Ream knew his team would be facing a tough task, but preparing for Greater Johnstown in practice and what his team saw in the game were two different things.
"We were OK for a little bit, but then they got their game going and then they got their mojo going, but it's hard to replicate what they can do," he said as his team completed a 9-14 campaign.
The Trojans have been going on massive scoring runs all season long, as all 21 of Greater Johnstown's victories this year have been by double digits. Greater Johnstown has been able to overwhelm teams and post high-scoring outputs, but Durham said all of that offensive success starts on the defensive end.
"Our offensive runs come from us getting clean defensive stops and they lead into transition," he explained.
Juniata only made four baskets in the middle two quarters of Thursday's game.
The Trojans held a 41-21 lead at halftime, and wasted little time making that advantage insurmountable for the Indians. The Trojans went on an 18-3 run in the first three minutes out of halftime to put the game out of reach. Greater Johnstown sophomore guard Donte Tisinger connected on three 3-pointers in the frame on the way to a 15-point performance.
The Trojans made 10 3-pointers for the game.
"We knew that they could shoot from the perimeter and we'd get out in space and (Tisinger) was still tall enough to shoot over us, so it's limitations that you have sometimes and you have to try overcome those. We tried, but it wasn't enough tonight," Ream said.
Durham said he will have little time enjoying the postseason victory as his focus shifted immediately towards top-seeded Central in the District-6 final set for Tuesday night.
The Scarlet Dragons (22-2) handed Greater Johnstown one of its three losses for the season back on Jan. 28th. Durham believes the intensity will be high with only the winner of that game advancing to the PIAA tournament.
"I think it's going to be a bloodbath," Durham said of the upcoming rematch with Central. "I think it's going to be a highly intense, physical game that's probably going to be low scoring."