Carson PG Johnson leads Senators past Hawks in playoffs
RENO – Andrew Johnson went from hero to goat and back to hero again, all within the last three minutes.
Johnson converted a critical three-point play with 2 minutes, 47 seconds left, then made a costly turnover that allowed Hug to regain the lead. But he redeemed himself with a free throw with 4.7 seconds left to give Carson a 53-52 win in the opening round of the Northern 4A regional tournament Tuesday night.
The win sends Carson into the semifinals against Bishop Manogue 7 p.m. Thursday at Spanish Springs High School. The Miners knocked off Carson twice in the regular season.
The difference in the game came at the foul line. Carson made 17 of 21, while Hug made just 9 of 19. Of course, Carson’s defense deserves a little credit, too, holding the Hawks to one field goal in the final five minutes.
“We made some clutch free throws, enough to win,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said. “We played pretty good defense. We did a good job of limiting Tre’s (Johnson) touches.”
Hug’s Johnson, who scored 21 points, didn’t seem to do much with his back to the basket, something the Senators noticed on film.
“We tried to make him go left,” Carson center Pat Smith said. “I was a little worried when he got off to such a fast start. He can really jump.”
Carson knocked down seven of its last eight foul shots, three by Andrew Johnson, two by Chris Steele and two by Brennan Shaffer.
Trailing 49-45 with 3:15 left in the game, Andrew Johnson – as he has done several times this season – took over.
The diminutive Carson guard stole the ball, drove the lane and scored. He was fouled and converted the free throw, slicing the Hug lead to 49-48. On Hug’s next possession, Johnson stole the ball again. Steele was fouled and went to the line with a chance to put the Senators ahead for the first time in the game.
Steele did exactly that – with a little help from Tre Johnson. Steele’s first free throw in the one-and-one situation took an extra bounce on the rim and seemed to hang there momentarily. Tre Johnson touched the ball on the rim and Carson was awarded the point, tying the game at 49.
Steele calmly drained the second shot to give the Senators a 50-49 lead with 2:14 left.
“I think he mistimmed it,” Hug coach Charles Walker said. “He was already up there.”
Hug missed its next shot, but Tre Johnson got a steal and slam when Andrew Johnson made a poor pass out near halfcourt. The slam gave the Hawks a 51-50 lead with 1:29 left.
Nine seconds later, Shaffer knocked in two from the free throw line for a 52-51 lead. Hug’s Jaevis Johnson tied the game at 52 with a free throw with 42.8 remaining.
Steele was double-teamed near half-court, but was able to call timeout with 29.8 left before losing the ball. Then it was Andrew Johnson doing what he does best.
The sophomore controlled the ball, penetrating and then backing out time an again. He finally got past Jaevis Johnson and was fouled going to the basket. The Carson star made the first free throw to snap the 52-all tie, but missed the second.
“He (coach Bruce Barnes) told me if I got in trouble to pass it off,” Johnson said. “I was just going in and taking it back out. I was doing what I do best.”
Barnes said that Pat Smith, who finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, would have been the recipient of the pass had Andrew Johnson been in trouble.
“They weren’t able to stay with him off the dribble,” Barnes said.
Hug called timeout with 3.5 left., but whatever the play the Hawks called was forgotten when the players went back onto the floor. They passed the ball twice in the backcourt before getting the ball in Tre Johnson’s hands just inside halfcourt. It looked like he might try a 3-pointer, but passed the ball off and the Hawks never got off a shot.
“We were supposed to get the ball upcourt and get the best shot possible; get the ball to Tre,” Walker said. “We made one extra pass. We made a pass we didn’t need top make.
“We expected the run to continue. We had guys at practice yesterday that didn’t have basketball on their mind. There were other things going on.”
The play certainly surprised the Senators.
“I was waiting for Tre to shoot the ball,” Andrew Johnson said. “I thought they would just lob the ball over us to him.”
Barnes said he thought that Johnson would have been closer to the basket when the Hawks came upcourt.
It’s been a Cinderella-type season in league play, and this is one of the Senators’ biggest wins in recent history.
“What was expected of this team and what we accomplished was the result of the hard work they put in,” Barnes said. “A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here; to finish in second place (with Douglas).”