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Sports

Johnston is leader by example

| Thursday, Jan. 5, 2006

NEW BETHLEHEM -- Josh Riggle and Mike Goth tend to be vocal players on the basketball court for Redbank Valley.

But senior Nick Johnston lets his actions do his talking.

"He is quiet," Bulldogs coach Don Wanninger said. "If he wants something done, he will just take the ball and run the show. That is a good thing."

Johnston has taken control of many games this season and has caught the attention of many Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference teams.

"A lot of people pay attention to him, and it opens things up for the other guys," Wanninger said.

The Bulldogs have four legitimate scorers on the floor each game, and Johnston helps give them some room to work.

Johnston, who desires to win Redbank Valley's first District 9 Class AA basketball title in 26 years, has been the most consistent scorer, leading Redbank Valley with 17 points per game.

"You know you are going to get 12 or 13 or 14 points a night," Wanninger said. "The thing with Nick, he is a physical player. He can get into foul trouble early. If we can get his offense going and hide on defense, he is okay."

Wanninger said Johnston can get into foul trouble with his aggressive play and that can take him out of his rhythm and slow down his offensive output.

"He needs to be on the floor," he said. "If the game is a showdown kind of game, he tends to struggle. He needs flow. He is unsure of what he wants to do or needs to do."

Johnston is quick to credit his teammates for the Bulldogs' success.

"I couldn't do it without those guys. It is not a one-man team," he said.

Not only has Johnston been the most consistent scorer this season, he has been the most consistent defender and rebounder.

Wanninger asks all five guys on the floor to be able to play all five positions -- to be able to rebound, defend and shoot the ball. Something Johnston has excelled at.

"Nick can do all three better than most," Wanninger said. "It takes some pressure to be our No. 1 guy. He is our best all-around player."

Wanninger, who is in his first year as coach, has been an assistant coach at Redbank Valley for four years and has seen Johnston use the game of basketball to grow up on the court and as a human being.

He has grown up as a kid and has grown up as a person," Wanninger said. "He has definitely matured as a player and a person."

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