C.A. Johnson’s Class 1A third-round boys basketball playoff showdown on Tuesday with mighty Great Falls and legendary coach John Smith, originally scheduled at Fairfield Central, has been shifted to Richland Northeast.
No matter the setting, the game affords the Hornets (16-9) a prime chance to become big-time hoops players for the first time under coach Louis Dreher, who has plenty of championship rings from his days as an assistant under George Glymph at Eau Claire in the 1990s.
CAJ is riding a nine-game winning streak, including easy early-round wins over Buford (63-44) and Ninety Six (65-34).
Now, the real fun begins. The Red Devils, after all, are perennial state championship contenders. Great Falls leads all South Carolina prep basketball teams (boys or girls) in state playoff wins (83) and state title game appearances (16) since the first year of total integration (1970-71). Only two other programs have won more state championships in the modern era than the Great Falls total of six – Calhoun County boys (8) and Blackville-Hilda girls (7). Smith, now is his 41st season at the Red Devils helm, has 838 wins on the books. Smith and Mullins girls coach Fred Senter, who has announced his retirement, are the only hoop coaches in Palmetto State history to crack the 800-win barrier.
C.A. Johnson's postseason report card: 11-16 all-time record, one state title in its only finals appearance in 1989.
Great Falls brings a 23-1 record to the third-round bout vs. CAJ.