Johnson's 28 points lead Jeannette past host Greensburg Salem
Anthony Johnson grabbed a towel and wiped up a self-made sweat spot under the hoop with about three minutes left in the game.
After the game, he wore one shoe and carried the other as he limped out of the locker room with ice on his sore right foot.
The Jeannette sophomore had a busy night — and arguably his best game since transferring from Allderdice — as the Jayhawks got past host Greensburg Salem, 81-65, Wednesday night in the Golden Lions' Christmas tournament.
“Nah, this might have been my worst game,” Johnson said. “I missed a ton of free throws.”
Still, the 6-foot-4 guard looked dominant at times against a much smaller Greensburg Salem team, chock-full of underclassmen.
Johnson finished with 28 points as Jeannette (2-6) put together a strong second half and overcame a game-high 29 points from Golden Lions junior guard Marvel McGowan.
It was a one-on-one shootout to talk about but not to Johnson.
“It was about the team and getting the win,” he said, “not about me and him.”
Johnson, playing in just his third game since transferring and working with limited practice time with his teammates, tweaked his ankle but came back to help Jeannette to the win. He had 28 points and 11 rebounds in his debut game Dec. 20 at Summit Academy.
The WPIAL has requested a hearing to discuss his transfer Jan. 4 but Johnson is allowed to play in the meantime.
“I am getting more comfortable with the guys,” Johnson said. “We played hard and found a way to win.”
Senior Mike Pompei finished with 17 points, while junior Robert Kennedy had 12 and junior Rylan Bumoskey 10 for Jeannette, which put up a season high for points.
“We're starting to come together,” Jeanette coach Adrian Batts said. “We haven't had a lot of practice time together, but I think we took a step forward in terms of playing harder. We had a lot of contributors tonight. Our size was a problem for (Greensburg Salem).”
Sophomore guard A.J. Sharp scored 17 for Greensburg Salem, and freshman Dante Parsons added 13.
Jeannette led 37-36 at the half after Sharp banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Kennedy scored on a tip-in and layup, Pompei made a 3 and Kennedy put back a rebound to push the lead to 57-49 after three quarters.
McGowan used an array of swift drives to attack the defense and score. He cut the lead to 60-55 on one of those plays, but another Johnson putback gave Jeannette the momentum back.
Clay Palmer, one of just two seniors for Greensburg Salem, fouled out with just more than five minutes to play, and Jeannette took advantage of his absence in the post, using a 15-7 spurt to take a 78-62 lead with 1:28 left in the fourth.
“Johnson always rebounds well so we knew we had to box out,” Golden Lions coach Craig Mankins said. “When Palmer fouled out, that hurt us inside. They out-toughed is. We welcome the pressure, but we made some silly turnovers.”
As for McGowan's performance, Mankins said, “We have some shooters this year and teams have to decide whether to guard them or focus on Marvel. He's been doing this all season.”
Jeannette plays the first game in the tournament at 5 p.m. Thursday against Laurel Highlands (5-3).
Greensburg Salem plays Mt. Pleasant (0-6) at 6:30.
Greensburg Central Catholic (7-0) plays Hempfield (2-4) at 8.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.