Since dropping down to the Class 1A level three years ago, C.A. Johnson has refused to “dumb down” its non-region basketball schedule. The Green Hornets hold doggedly to the belief that continuing their Columbia city rivalries with traditional Richland 1 district foes and finding challenging holiday tournaments to enter will, in the long run, pay benefits come region times.
The theory worked well for CAJ during its first two seasons at the small-school level in Region 4. The same is holding true this winter in a new setting – Region 3.
The Hornets boys team, for example, went through non-region testing with an unimpressive (on the surface) record of 5-9. But the competition was rather challenging – two games against archrival Keenan, 4A Richland NE, 3A Dreher, 2A Eau Claire and 2A Columbia, not to mention playing four games at the tough Lake Marion holiday tournament (which featured a win over Calhoun County).
But Louis Dreher’s team entered the Region 3 wars battled tested, and Tuesday’s 55-39 win over visiting Lewisville staked the Hornets to a 4-1 record at the close of the first half. CAJ has a chance to avenge its only region loss on Friday at home against mighty Great Falls, coached by the legendary John Smith. The Red Devils you might recall, ended Johnson’s season last year with a win in the third round of the state playoffs. A Hornets upset on Friday would a tie for first place as the region race hits the home stretch.
Gerald Snooks scored 12 points and Denzel Stroman contributed 10 in last night’s rout of Lewisville.
The girls story is similar, but with slightly better results of late. Melvina Pierce’s Green Hornets managed only one win in 12 tries prior to the state of region play, but since then CAJ has been flawless. Tuesday’s 46-11 triumph over Lewisville upped the Hornets’ first-place conference record to 5-0.
Leangel Garvin (10 points), Khira McKenney (4 points, 10 rebounds), Nakia Owens (7 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals) and Logan Furtick (5 points, 5 steals) all made nice contributions. Nakia Owens did not score a point, but came up big in other areas – 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals.