JOHNSONBURG – The Rams (1-0) jumped out to an insurmountable 20-point lead Friday night in a lights-out 60-35 win Friday night in their home opener over county rival St. Marys (0-1).
Johnsonburg had three players in double figures as sophomore guard Cameron Grumley paced all scorers with 17 points; he was complemented by junior forward Quinn Luhr, who chipped in 14, and junior guard Mitchell Holmberg, who tallied 10 points on the night.
"I thought we put forth a good team effort. We hustled and we didn't look to be too overly tired," said Johnsonburg head boys varsity basketball coach Bill Shuey following the win. "I was able to move people in and out, and that was a big plus for us."
The Rams used a 13-point run to start the game after a free throw from St. Marys senior Jimmy Werner opened the action. Consecutive baskets from Grumley gave the home team an early 6-0 lead and Luhr followed up with a layup with 3:29 to go in the first quarter before a Holmberg trey prompted a Dutch timeout.
The restart didn't favor St. Marys as Holmberg came up with a steal and the subsequent layup gave the Rams a 13-1 advantage. A free throw from St. Marys senior Justin Quiggle did little to stop the momentum as Shuey put in a layup 80 seconds later for a 15-2 margin; the Rams were able to regain possession before the buzzer as sophomore guard Cole Peterson dropped in a 3-pointer with six seconds on the clock for an 18-2 first quarter lead.
Johnsonburg continued their scoring trend in the second quarter as Grumley came up with an immediate steal and subsequent basket. After trading possessions, Luhr scored on an easy layup near the 5:30 mark for the 22-2 lead.
The teams would trade baskets to 28-8 before St. Marys closed out the half on an 8-2 run to close the gap to 30-16. Werner was fouled on a successful layup and drilled the subsequent free throw to cut the deficit to 17 points. He later put in a layup with 33 seconds to go in the half and after the Rams coughed up the ball, Werner completed another 3-point play on a layup and free throw with 18 seconds remaining to cut the halftime deficit to 14 points.
"I knew St. Marys was going to start clicking, which they did," coach Shuey said. "They cut into that lead going into the half quite a bit, by a lot. We had some issues of taking care of the ball late in the first half but in the second half, I thought we did better.
"We cut back on the turnovers in the second half and we executed a little bit better."
The Rams took care of business in the third quarter and preserved the lead with consistent scoring led by Grumley, who scored eight of his 17 points in the third quarter.
Quiggle tried to cut into the lead late in the third quarter with a 3-point play on a layup and free throw to cut the lead to 21 points with 1:26 on the clock; he drilled a 3-pointer 20 seconds later but a layup by Johnsonburg junior forward Frank Kocjancic before the buzzer righted the ship at 51-31 going into the final quarter.
"We were forcing some outside shots and tried to force some passes inside too [in the first half]," coach Shuey said. "That resulted in two things; long rebounds which they got some breaks on us, and turnovers, but we were mostly able to fix that [in the second half]."
Luhr scored 54 seconds into the last quarter and Peterson followed with a steal and an easy bucket; Grumley was later fouled but scored his 17th point of the night from the free-throw line to give Johnsonburg a 56-31 lead.
St. Marys junior Brandon Vollmer and Quiggle were fouled on the next two Dutch possessions but walked away with an 0-for-5 showing; Luhr scored a back door layup with 3:16 to go and Kocjancic followed up with a layup at the 1:40 mark for a 60-31 lead. Quiggle hit a jumper with 1:15 on the clock to cut the deficit to 27 points before a layup from St. Marys sophomore Caleb Bennett set the score at 60-35.
For the first game of the season, coach Shuey said he was happy to see his team able to penetrate and score some easy baskets in the paint.
"We shot a fairly high percentage for the game and we should when we're shooting that close under the basket," coach Shuey said. "It was a good start but St. Marys is definitely going to improve and the next time we play them could be a whole different ballgame.
"I guess I was surprised somewhat by our lack of execution; we did well at times but there were instances when our floor just wasn't as balanced as I thought it would be. At times, we appeared to be out of sorts, but we'll get there."
Johnsonburg hosts Elk County Catholic on Tuesday. Junior varsity action is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
St. Marys 2 14 15 4 - 35
Johnsonburg 18 12 21 19 - 60
St. Marys – 35
Justin Quiggle 5 2-6 15, Jimmy Werner 3 5-6 11, Caleb Bennett 2 0-0 4, Brandon Wollmer 2 0-4 4, Justin Beimel 0 1-2 1. Totals: 12 8-18 35.
Johnsonburg – 60
Cameron Grumley 8 1-8 17, Quinn Luhr 7 0-0 14, Mitchell Holmberg 4 1-1 10, Cole Peterson 2 2-2 7, Michael Shuey 2 2-5 6, Frank Kocjancic 2 0-1 4, Kyle Sheldon 1 0-0 2, Christian Cherry 0 0-1 0. Totals 26 6-18 60.
3-pointers: St. Marys 3 (Quiggle 3), Johnsonburg 2 (Peterson, Holmberg)