DUNLAP — When it mattered most Tuesday night, the basketball wound up in the right hands for Concord.
Senior point guard Ramon Johnson’s 18-foot jumper from the right wing as time expired lifted the Minutemen to a 44-42 non-conference victory over youthful Elkhart Central at McCuen Gym.
Concord, trailing by as much as eight points, had to battle from behind to win this one and the final play didn’t even go as designed.
“I missed a free throw earlier and Central then tied the game,” said the slender 5-9 Johnson. “I figured I would get another chance. The play we had drawn up didn’t work out so I had to create something. The shot felt good as soon as I let it go.”
The Minutemen won despite just three players scoring — Johnson 24, junior Filip Serwatka 17 and junior Danny McMahon three.
“Ramon took over, just like he did in our win over Mishawaka,” said CHS coach Steve Austin. “The last play was supposed to be a lob to Serwatka, but we messed it up. Ramon is just unflappable.”
Central led much of the way, largely on the strength of eight 3-pointers — four by sophomore Langston Johnson, three by junior Treyton Harris and one by senior Tre Taylor.
“We started a freshman, two sophomores and a junior,” said Blue Blazer coach Troy Noble. “We took a good team to the wire on their home floor and lost on a last-second shot by a great player. I have no complaints.”
Concord, after opening the game in a 2-3 zone defense, found better results with a man-to-man. Central was 0-for-3 from long range in the fourth quarter, scoring just four points.
“We just pressured the ball more, trying to distract their shots,” said Austin. “And, as a young team, I think they got a little tired.”
Serwatka scored on successive offensive rebounds to start the fourth period for a 38-38 tie and Johnson put the Minutemen ahead by finishing on a fast break.
Serwatka’s two free throws put CHS up 42-38 with 3:26 to play, but Central tied it as Harris hit two free throws at 1:18 and junior Aaron Flax tallied on a rebound at 0:44.
“I think our experience edge was a big factor in the comeback,” said Austin. “We got some steals and layups or scored on rebounds.
Adam Glanders of the Minutemen saw his first action of the season after it was feared he wouldn’t play due to a football injury.
“He has been practicing for about three weeks and he was cleared to play on Monday,” said Austin. “We will bring him along slowly.”
Concord is back in action at home Friday against Warsaw.
Concord 44, Central 42
CONCORD — Ramon Johnson 10-15 2-4 24, Jaylyn Danner 0-2 0-0 0, Brett Austin 0-2 0-0 0, Danny McMahon 1-3 0-0 3, Filip Serwatka 7-14 2-3 17, Adam Glanders 0-1 0-0 0, Korey Phillips 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 18-38 4-8 44
CENTRAL — Antwaan Allen 0-1 2-4 2, Langston Johnson 4-12 0-0 12, Treyton Harris 5-12 2-2 15, Aaron Flax 2-6 0-0 4, Cornell Conner 3-5 0-0 6, Tre Taylor 1-2 0-0 3, Shaneal Mackey 0. Totals: 15-38 4-6 42
Concord 15 4 15 10 — 44
Central 13 6 19 4 — 42
3-point shooting: Concord 4-17 (Johnson 2-7, Danner 0-2, Austin 0-2, McMahon 1-2, Serwatka 1-3, Glanders 0-1), Central 8-19 (Johnson 4-12, Harris 3-6, Taylor 1-1)
Rebounds: Central 26 (Allen 7, Conner 7), Concord 20 (Serwatka 9)
Fouls: Concord 12, Central 11
Turnovers: Concord 7, Central 11
Officials: Ron Day, Plymouth; Rollie Thill, Valparaiso; Greg Cunningham, Kokomo.
JV score: Concord, 62-27