Johnson outlasts Central for St. Paul City Title

Tonight takes The Czar to St. Paul Central for the St. Paul City's last chance to stay in the race against Johnson. The Central pep band on hand tonight and it takes up half the Central side. Big horn section so they had to do the Chicago hit 25 or 6 to 4. Too bad the gym has a temperature of about 40 degrees.

Jordan Larson off to a quick start for Central. That counters a couple of Estan Tyler buckets. A Dion Suggs layup gives Johnson an 8-7 lead at 3:40. Larson with a triple to start a 10-0 run and he's got the 1st 10 for Central. Taylor Smaller with a 3 and then Cameron Smith with a 4 point play to end the run. 17-8 Central with 11:44 left in the half. After a Larson putback, Dion Suggs with a 3 and Tyler with another jumper. 19-15 Central at 7:15. Central with another run, this time 14-3 over 2:20 via 4 Johnson turnovers. Central up 15, 33-18 with 4:35 left in the half. But Johnson cranks it up on D too and gets back it it. They end the half on a 16-4 run in a sloppy end to the half. Central 37-34 at the half as they've lost an opportunity. Larson with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Dion Suggs with 12 points and Estan Tyler with 9 for Johnson. My sheet has Central with 11 turnovers and Johnson with 9.

Johnson with the 1st 5 out of the break to conclude a 21-4 run. Smaller throws in a running prayer that banks home to break the run and tie the game at 39 with 16 minutes left. Larson continues to go to work with a couple of buckets. Smaller with a jumper at 12:43, 48-45 Central as they look to pull away. Larson picks up his 4th on a tough call with 10:07 left and he has to sit. Maurice Thomas makes the 2 FTs for a 52-50 Johnson lead. The Governors extend the lead to 5 on a Michael Talley layin and Central needs a timeout. 55-50 Johnson with 8:13 left. 10 turnovers in the half for Central. Michael Adams with a putback at 6:35, but then a bad shot leads to a Dion Suggs layup. Adams with 1 of 2 at the stripe, but Larson cleans up the mess for a 3 point play. 60 all with 5:43 left. Nice job here by coach Howell of playing offense for defense with Larson by putting him in the game on offensive possessions and subbing him out on defense. 63 all at 4:30 on a Nathanial Kado jumper for the Minutemen. Down to crunch time we go.

Suggs with a jumper at 3:40 after a Central turnover. Larson 1 of 2 FTs and then a Suggs miss. DJ Johnson 2 FTs at 2:51 for a 66-65 Central lead. After a Michael Talley charge for Johnson, LeDarian Horton scores on a nice high/low feed from Larson with 2 minutes left and Central leads by 3. A wild scramble of misses and offensive rebounds on the Johnson end, Larson with a block in the exchange. Johnson gets nothing out of it. Larson on the other end with 2 and Central is up 70-65 wiht 1:20 left. But the wheels fall off for Central. Demitri Conwell is given a free lane to the hoop for 2 at 1:08. Larson misses 2 FTs at 1:04 and then gets called for a block on the other end and that's his 5th foul. Talley with 1 of the 2 FTs. 70-68 Central with 59.2 left. Central breaks the press for a 2 on 1 but Kado gets called for the charge with 50.1 left. Who do you go to if you're Johnson? Who else but one of the most clutch players around, Dion Suggs. They go high screen/roll with him and he converts with 37 seconds left to the game at 70. Central goes with it and Adams turns it over with 20 seconds left. Horton then commits the deliberate foul. Don't know if he thought Central was behind or if he was trying to stop a breakaway. Talley makes 1 of 2 again and Johnson leads by 1. Central again decides to play it without a timeout. Cameron Smith drives left baseline and turns it over in the last 5 seconds and Johnson steals a win over Central 71-70.

For Central, what a night for Jordan Larson. He fouls out with 27 points and 16 rebounds. No answer for him inside. Taylor Smaller with 12 points for the Minutemen. 3 late turnovers, 2 missed free throws an a blown defensive assignment did Central in in the last 1:15. Central with about 25 turnovers on the night. Central's smallish guards had trouble all night against the aggressive Johnson D. When Central did take care of the ball, their inside strength was superior. Though LeDarian Horton wasn't able to push around Johnson kids (e.g Maxie Rosenbloom) like he does other players. Central falls to 14-5 and 5-2 in the St. Paul City. I look for them to run the table and finish 20-5 against a soft schedule. Right now, they're probably looking at the 3 seed in section 4AAAA unless Tartan takes a tumble. Last year 1st with a record of 21-6 (including the Twin Cities Game), 5 seed. This year, 20-5, 2nd place, 3 seed.

For Johnson, Dion Suggs-Young leads the way with 20 points and he was the guy making the plays late. Estan Tyler with 15. They are just relentless with the number of people they play and the pressure they apply. Add in Tyler and a finisher in Suggs and there you go as they can use both of those guys to generate offense off high screen and roll. The Govs are now 16-3 and 7-0 in the league, 2 games ahead thanks to 2 wins by a total of 3 points over Central. They too should easily run the table until a likely monster rematch in the Twin Cities Game vs Washburn on March 7th. Johnson won the 1st meeting at home 86-83 in a double OT classic (maybe the game of the year anywhere in the metro) on December 16th. After that, anything but a cakewalk thru section 4AAA to state will be a surprise.


  1. Great game even though the officials seemed to cofuse the players . They were grossly inconsistant . They smacks and forearm shivers were excessive and not being called . Though hand checks were .

    How do you think Central will do in their tough section ? They shoot well and with Larson and Horton bullying people inside they could suprise some team .

    What is your opinion of Johnson ? I believe you stated that their lack of a goto scorer would hurt them ? It sometimes seems as if they have too many scoring options . Suggs ,Tyler , Conwell , Talley ,Anderson and Rosenbloom have each led them team in scoring more than once . With that anybody can hurt you game wouldnt that make them more dangerous ? You cant gameplan to stop just one player .

    Also Suggs IS the most Clutch player in the state . Everyone who plays Johnson knows who will have the ball at the end of a close game and no one has figured out away to stop him for making a play to win . How under rated is he and why do their players recieve so little recognition ?

  2. Terrific game indeed. I wasn't happy when I saw 2 of the 3 officials and it showed during the game when you had 2 officials calling the game 2 different ways.

    As to Central, I see a rematch with Tartan in the semis. Size vs Sonnen in that game. Tartan will get whatever they want on offense with Sonnen while slowing down some of Central's option, though I think Larson will come up big. I let him get his and then put Beavers on Horton.

    For Johnson, you have to take care of the ball to beat them. If you do, I don't think they can score consistently enough though Tyler is becoming a better shooter all the time. Everybody else is a slasher. Why Central didn't go under that high screen/roll from 30 feet away I don't understand.


Have a different take than mine? You can provide your take here.