Johnson Leads O'Connell into Semis

MYRTLE BEACH, SC--A more assertive Brian Johnson showed up in the second round of the 2002 Beach Ball Classic to register a double-double on the way to propelling the Bishop O'Connell Knights to a victory over the St. John's Neumann (PA) Pirates, 66-42.

The Knights came out attacking on both ends of the court, shooting 18-30 from the field in the first half while limiting the Pirates to only 7-24, and Brian Johnson led the charge. He scored 12 points in the half, including three dunks, to go along with six rebounds.

"They were two-time defending champions of the Philadelphia Capital League," Johnson said, "so I took it as a challenge… They were letting me catch the ball, but I know how to play aggressively. Yesterday, I didn't play that hard."

In the process, the Laurinburg, NC native not only scored more points than on the first night, but he took a more vocal role and looked like more of a leader.

"A lot of the players look up to me," Johnson explained. "Definitely, we look at our point guard, but some players look up to me, and I have to lead them in the right way."

Teammates Marcus Ginyard and Erik Smith each tallied eight points in the half as part of the 39-19 halftime lead. Ginyard finished with 13 points and Smith with 15.

In the second stanza the pace slowed down, but the outcome was never in doubt. The Knights coasted to a 66-42 victory.

Johnson completed a workmanlike half of seven points and four rebounds towards his total of 19 (9-18 FG) and 10 for the game, respectively.

"I think Brian really came to play tonight," head coach Joe Wooten said. "I thought our guards did a great job of recognizing that he was open, and we gave it to him.

"Last night, Brian recognized that he was double-teamed, and he was unselfish to give it up. Tonight, our guards recognized that he had a good match-up, and they went to him a lot."

While his offense gets most of the publicity, his defense was just as important against the Pirates, who shot only 35 (17-48) percent from the field for the game.

"He gives our defense a lot of confidence," Ginyard said. "It's easier for us to pressure up and increase the pressure on the guards, knowing he's back there."

The Knights finished the game shooting almost 53 percent (28-53) from the field compared to 35 percent (17-48) by St. John Neumann, out-rebounded the Pirates 36-28, and forced 16 turnovers to only 12 of their own.

The victory pits O'Connell against Christ the King (NY) in the second semifinal on Sunday night at 8:45 p.m. in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The first semifinal will see St. John's Prep (NJ) take on McQuiad Jesuit (NY) at 7:00 p.m.

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