JOHNSONBURG – The Rams continued their winning ways Wednesday night with a 68-43 victory over visiting DuBois Central Catholic.
Johnsonburg was propelled to the win by sophomores Cameron Grumley and Cole Peterson, who led the way with 16 and 15 points, respectively. They were complemented by junior Frank Kocjancic's 12 points and a 10-point night from senior Michael Shuey. Junior Quinn Luhr also added nine points, including two 3-pointers.
"We had balanced scoring and I thought we played well at times," said Johnsonburg head boys varsity basketball coach Bill Shuey following the win. "Our intensity lacked a little bit in the third quarter again but I was glad to see that we were able to push the lead up in the fourth quarter as we executed a bit better."
The Rams had a 21-point lead after Peterson completed a 3-point play after being fouled on a layup to start the second half. Johnsonburg would keep a 20-point cushion until after the halfway point of the third quarter as DCC chipped away at the deficit.
The visiting Cardinals got a layup from junior Tommy Boyer and back-to-back scores from senior Danny O'Connor to cut the lead to 48-34 with 3:08 remaining in the third quarter. The Rams were unable to recover and junior Sebastian Schenk hit a layup on the other end to inch DCC closer. After Johnsonburg turned the ball over, DCC sophomore Dom Goldbach was fouled on the other end of the floor and hit both free throws to cut the lead to 48-38 with 1:13 to go in the third quarter.
"The press really wasn't doing any good in the third quarter and [DCC] was getting layup after layup after layup," coach Shuey said. "I don't know how [DCC] got behind us and there was always a loose ball, then we thought we stole the ball and we'd lose it right back, then [DCC] has a wide open player.
"I don't think it was a lack of aggressiveness, it's just that sometimes the ball didn't bounce our way and [DCC] got some easy buckets in the third quarter."
Grumley planted the seeds to right the ship with a late layup in the third quarter to restore a 12-point lead. The Rams then outscored DCC 16-1 in the first 6:10 on the fourth quarter to seal the deal. The Cardinals were sent to the line four times but came away with a 1-for-7 showing.
Shuey opened with a layup and after a free throw from DCC senior Brock Labue, Grumley hit two free throws for a 54-39 lead. Peterson would later complete a 3-point play after being fouled on a layup to push the lead to 57-39. After Grumley hit one of two free throw tries, Peterson cashed in at the 5-minute mark with a lengthy jumper for a 21-point advantage.
After DCC junior Nate Fassnacht whiffed on his free throw attempt, Peterson hit another layup for a 62-39 lead. Two free throw tries from Schenk were fruitless as Kocjancic added his sixth 2-point field goal of the night with 2:39 to play for a 25-point lead. DCC sophomore Dom Goldbach was fouled on the other end but missed both of his tries as DCC struck out on the free throw line down the stretch. Shuey would score two layups late in the fourth quarter as he traded baskets with Boyer and Goldbach down the stretch.
"When we lost an 18-point lead and cut it down to 10 points still in the third quarter, I was glad to see that our team didn't panic-- we were more patient on offense in the fourth quarter and we executed better," coach Shuey said. "We were able to get the easy buckets and those are the things that you want to see at this time of the year. You want to keep winning."
Despite having O'Connor, listed at six feet, six inches tall, Johnsonburg held the standout senior to 10 points.
"They stayed with us with their outside shooting and Danny O'Connor got some passes inside- we allowed the ball to get inside to him-- and [O'Connor] can finish, and he has some low block moves," coach Shuey said. Schenk and junior Morgan Gray are listed as six feet, four inches tall, and while both saw significant playing time, the Rams were able to overcome their height.
"I think we controlled the boards and we hustled," coach Shuey said.
The Rams raced out to a quick 10-0 lead in the first quarter as Peterson completed an early 3-point play on a layup; Grumley later hit a layup for a 5-0 lead and Shuey scored a putback in the paint for a 7-0 run. Grumley capped the hot start with a 3-pointer to prompt a DCC timeout.
The Cardinals scored consecutive 2-point field goals from O'Connor and junior Jake Heigel on the restart but were unable to make a long run.
Luhr drilled two straight treys in 63 seconds for a 16-4 lead; after senior Conner Park and Kocjancic traded layups, DCC junior Michael Krajewski hit a 3-pointer with 1:49 to go in the first quarter to cut the lead to 18-9. Kocjancic and Heigel then traded buckets to 20-11 before Kocjancic struck gold in the paint for a 22-11 advantage.
Krajewski would again come up big from downtown, cutting the lead to 22-14 with a long 3-pointer with 42 seconds to burn in the first quarter but he was turned away cold as he was held scoreless for the rest of the game.
The Rams put together a 10-2 run in the middle of the second quarter to extend their lead. Kocjancic, Shuey and Grumley hit layups on three straight Johnsonburg possessions for a 32-16 lead. Senior Kyle Sheldon came up with a steal and raced the length of the floor for an easy basket with 2:23 to go before the half. After a Kocjancic layup 20 seconds later, DCC got two 3-pointers from senior Jeremy Johnson to cut the lead to 38-19. But like Krajewski, Johnson also was shut down for the rest of the game by the Johnsonburg defense. A late Grumley layup gave Johnsonburg a 44-22 halftime lead.
Now 13-3 on the season, the Rams will travel to Curwensville this Friday.