Johnson keeps city hopes alive

Prologue
To St. Paul Johnson for the big rematch with Central.  No love lost on this Valentine's Day between these 2 league powers.  Remember that in the last meeting, Central won to break Johnson's 55 game conference winning streak.  12 ounces of 7-Up and another restaurant quality walking taco on the menu.  Johnson with a very underrated concession stand.  Central JVs get another win over Johnson to defacto wrap up their 2nd straight JV title.

Game Time
An ugly start for Central as they miss a bunch of layups.  After a 4 point play by Rayeon Williams for Central, the Govs go on an 8-2 run to take the lead.  Jalen Mobley with a drive off a high screen for a tough finish and 1.  12-8 Johnson as Central takes a much needed timeout at the 9:42 mark.   A Central bucket at 8:05 and then a minute later its Quashingm Smith-Pugh to the bench with his 3rd foul for Johnson.  Central can't take advantage as they only get 1 field goal the rest of the half.  12-4 Johnson run over that stretch.  26-18 Governors at the half.

Peirre Conwell scores the 1st 6 points of the second half and Johnson is out to a 32-18 lead.  Central counters with 6 in a row of their own as Williams goes to the difficult scoop for 2 at the 13:20 mark.  That breaks a stretch of 1 Minutemen field goal over 12:45 crossing halftime.  Minutemen cut the lead to 8 but a pair of turnovers push the lead back to 40-28 just inside of 10 left.  Center Malik Durant-Haines had a difficult start but 3 straight field goals for him keeps the Central offense going.  44-34 Johnson under 8 to play.  Central would have 1 last good chance.  Williams with a pure 3, Johnson misses a layup.  Central down 50-43 with the ball and 3:40 left.  But the Minutemen would turn it over on the next 3 possessions.  Johnson not great at the line to close it out but Central couldn't score.  Johnson goes on to win 63-49.

Post Game
Central had won 5 in a row coming into the game.  Rayeon Williams leads with 12.  The front-court duo of Markus Taylor-Knighten and Malik Durant-Haines combined for 15.  Taylor-Knighten had 19 and 18 by himself in the last meeting.  That was the area of advantage and Central got nothing out of it.  Overall, a very flat and disappointing game for the Minutemen.  They were just not up for the Johnson intensity.  Central falls to 15-8 overall and 7-2 in the league.  They will need to beat Highland Park on Tuesday just to hope that the Scots knock off Johnson and force a 3 way tie. 

Johnson improves to 12-7 and they stay tied with Highland Park at 7-1 in the conference.  2 weeks from tonight is the final game of the regular season between these 2 with everything likely on the line.  Conference title, trip to the Twin Cities Game and the top seed in section 4AAA.  Peirre Conwell with 11 of his 15 in the 2nd half, the opening 6 expanding the margin to double digits.  Despite first half foul trouble, Quashingm Smith-Pugh finished with 10 points on 8-8 FTs.  He added a minimum of 4 assists and a couple of steals.  Soph Jalen Mobley with 9 of his 11 in the 1st half.  Johnson starting to show signs of the old waves of defense and intensity that has been their trademark over their big conference run.  Since the loss to Central, the Govs are 6-2 with close losses to quality AAAA opponents Edina and Stillwater.  Even more than last year, this could be another Johnson group that is peaking at the right time and that you just don't want to have to play in the tournament.

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