Let’s just say C.A. Johnson made a statement to the rest of the Class A division Tuesday night. After playing struggling to a .500 record playing mainly 4A and 3A competition in the non-region portion of the schedule, the Green Hornets opened Region 3A with a dominating 76-57 victory over No. 6 Great Falls at home.
Six players scored at least eight points as C.A.. Johnson blistered the Red Devils defense to the tune of nearly 60 percent shooting and a relentless attack that the visitors couldn’t match.
“We wanted to make a statement because our non-conference was so tough,” C.A. Johnson coach Daryl Jarvis said. “After that Hammond game (last Friday), we really felt like we could play with anybody. The mind-frame is we’re hungry and know we can play with top level teams. These seniors don’t want this season to end like the last two have.”
Great Falls coach John Smith said when he sized up the Class A classification in the preseason, the felt C.A. Johnson (6-5, 1-0) was as good as anybody on paper. Having seeing them up-close, his opinion hasn’t changed.
“This is the first region game so you would have thought we would have more energy but when they knocked us on our heels, we didn’t fight through it,” Smith said. “Our energy level didn’t match their their energy level. Listen, that is a good team that is going to give a lot of people fits.”
It didn’t take the Green Hornets long to establish it’s game plan. Nate Nelson and Robert Riley controlled the tempo and that allowed the two guards to penetrate and score or dish it off to Peter Goodwin, William Tobe or Mike Knox for easy baskets.
They used a 13-2 that began late in the first quarter and ended with a Benjamin Holmes lay-up that stretched a seven-point lead to 29-13 five minutes before the half.
C.A. Johnson shot 15-of-25 from the field in the first half with the majority of the baskets coming in the paint. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Green Hornets were 29-of-46 from the field.
“They sped us up and we couldn’t play at their tempo,” Smith said. “We played their game of getting up and down the floor but we didn’t do that. They were very quick off the dribble. We didn’t do a good job on the ball and we didn’t do a good job off the ball. When we did help out, they kicked it out and hit the three. They had us in the yo-yo.”
Jarvis said the Green Hornets played much like they practice. With 11 seniors on the roster, they have high-energy, up-tempo practices.
“That is the style of play that we practice,” the third-year coach said. “We try and push the tempo and try to wear teams down. I think the strength of our schedule and being able to get after it in practice has helped us out a lot.”
Great Falls (10-4, 0-1) turned it over nine times in the first quarter and finished the half with 13 turnovers. Once they fell behind by double-digits early in the second quarter, they never made a run to get back in it.
Goodwin led C.A. Johnson with way with 16 points and Tobe added 14 with Holmes coming off the bench to contribute 12. Great Falls had three players in double figures with Nigel Simpson leading the way with 14 points.
“To win a game in this manner against a good Great Falls team is a solid win,” Jarvis said.
GF – Nigel Simpson 14, JaMarcus Culp 12, Chris Culp 12, Holmes 7, Dean 4, Kelly 4, Jeter 4. CAJ – Peter Goodwin 16, William Tobe 14, Benjamin Holmes 12, Nate Nelson 10, Riley 8, Knox 8, Johnson 6, Mallory 2.