By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Ramon Johnson was the Alpha and Omega Friday night for the Concord High School boys basketball team in the NIC-NLC Shootout at Mishawaka Marian.
The 5-8 junior point guard had a spectacular fourth period as the Minutemen held off an upset big by a determined Mishawaka Marian Knight squad. Johnson netted 12 of his team-high 19 points as the Minutemen rallied from a 56-50 deficit with 5:32 left to play for a 68-63 victory.
Johnson also tossed in five points in the first quarter as the Minutemen trailed 18-16.
“This was my best game,” Johnson said. “My teammates got me in the right positions and I was very comfortable at the line.”
Johnson was 7-of-8 from the charity stripe in the game with all of his attempts coming the final stanza.
“Ramon is a very gutsy player,” Concord coach Steve Austin said. “He does all the little things.”
In the evening’s first game, the Mishawaka Cavemen were 67-50 winners over the Elkhart Memorial Crimson Chargers.
The same four teams are involved tonight in the second day of the shootout. Tonight’s action is at Concord with Memorial (4-3) facing Marian (2-6) at 6 p.m. followed by Concord (6-0) and Mishawaka (5-1) around 8.
Johnson sparked the Minutemen both at the free-throw line and with his defense.
The Marian Knights went up 56-50 on a basket by 6-1 senior Demetrius Jackson. Johnson canned two free throws at 4:59 and then stole a Marian pass driving in for a layup that pulled Concord to within two points at 56-54. Johnson than put the Minutemen back in front with a 3-pointer off a nifty pass from 6-6 senior Franko House at 57-56 with 4:21 remaining.
After the Knights tied the score 57-57 on a freebie by 5-11 senior Michael Whitfield, the Minutemen regained the lead at 59-57 when Johnson whipped a pass underneath to an open 6-3 senior DuWhan Alford at 3:26.
“DuWhan is a warrior. That comes from his football background,” Austin said.
“He may not score a lot of points, but he is going to give us a great effort. I know at crunch time he is going to come through.”
Following a basket off an offensive rebound by 6-2 junior Adam Glanders that put Concord up 61-57, the Knights battled back and tied the score with 1:47 remaining on a basket by 5-11 sophomore Devin Cannady and two free throws by Jackson. House gave Concord a 63-61 lead with a layin at 1:00 before Johnson made six of seven tosses from the charity stripe to close out the contest.
“We had the right guy at the line,” Austin said.
The Minutemen appeared to be off during the contest as the score was tied 32-32 at halftime and the Knights had a 50-45 lead entering the fourth period.
“We did not come to compete and we were not focused,” Austin said.
“But we still found a way to win. At halftime when I talked to the kids I told them it was not about the Xs and Os. That was not the problem. Marian was diving on the floor after loose balls. Marian’s press bothered us. We only needed one guy to do one thing and we could break it.”
House chipped in with 16 points for the Minutemen while 6-7 senior Ghaneah Wayker contributed 12, 6-5 sophomore Filip Serwatka nine, Alford seven and Glanders five.
Jackson scored 23 for the Knights and Cannady added 21.
“The plan was to try and contain Jackson,” Austin said. “We knew he was going to get his points. We wanted to play our normal defense. Marian spread us out more than any team has so far. That gave Jackson some nice drives to the basket.”
Cannady was 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the contest.
“We told the kids Cannady was Marian’s best shooter right now,” Austin said. “We let him get some wide open 3s in the first half.”
Jackson has signed to play next season at Notre Dame. He had a couple of noteworthy slam dunks in the contest.
“He is a very good player,” Johnson said. “Going up against him gave me some extra incentive.”
Memorial got in some early foul trouble and that allowed Mishawaka to stretch a 19-13 lead at the end of the first period to 38-18 by halftime.
“The foul problems were because of being late to make plays,” Memorial coach Mark Barnhizer said. “We did not come to compete and until we learn that we are going to struggle.”
The Cavemen hit 28-of-57 field goal attempts (51.6 percent) including 9-of-18 from beyond the arc.
Five-eleven sophomore TJ Hursey tossed in 19 points for Mishawaka. Six-three senior Chris Mitchell chipped in with 14 and 6-0 classmate Mike Buchanan 10.
The Chargers were led in scoring by 6-2 senior Markese McGuire with 22 points. McGuire had an off night hitting only 7-of-24 field goals, but was perfect in eight tries from the line.
“McGuire is a great player,” Mishawaka coach Ryan Watson said.
Six-three sophomore Dimitri Giger scored 11 points for the Chargers.