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on different of­fenses all the time in prac­tice, so we know where we are on the court.”

Added Bucs head coach Frank Kra­tovil: “As long as we stay within the frame­work of the of­fense, we tend to do well. When Tariq goes to col­lege, he cer­tainly will be play­ing guard, and he’s got a beau­ti­ful shot, one of the best shots on the Shore, but I also want to use him for the big body down un­der ... and that makes a big dif­fer­ence in how we play, it opens up ev­ery­thing for every­one else.”

The game was just about wrapped up in the first 90 sec­onds.

Kent Is­land jumped ahead 7-0 at the 6-minute, 26-sec­ond mark of the open­ing pe­riod, the flurry punc­tu­ated by John­son’s twohanded slam dunk off a David Bowen steal and dish, prompt­ing a Lions time­out. The run stretched to 13-4, as ju­nior cen­ter John Van Wie sank two in-close and John­son flushed home an­other two-handed throw­down, this time off a Dal­las Miller pil­fer and pass.

The Bucs led 18-9 at the end of the first, and 39-25 at the break, John­son scor­ing 19 be­fore in­ter­mis­sion — in­clud­ing two three-point­ers — while Van Wie net­ted all of his 15 in the paint plus a foul shot to af­ford a nice, in­side-out­side com­bi­na­tion.

“We had the in­ten­sity and we got some easy bas­kets early on,” Kra­tovil said. “The crowd was pumped up, the kids were pumped up and ready to play. The key for us is main­tain­ing that in­ten­sity, re­gard­less of who we’re play­ing.”

Turnovers, es­pe­cially early, were the Lions’ un­do­ing.

Queen Anne’s gave it away on eight pos­ses­sions in the first quar­ter, and strug­gled find­ing the range, con­nect­ing on only 4 of 14 from the floor in the first eight min­utes, in­clud­ing 0 of 6 from the three­p­oint line.

“We didn’t ex­e­cute cor­rectly to­day,” said Queen Anne’s for­ward Charles Hyn­son; the se­nior scored a team-high 19 points, adding five re­bounds, two as­sists and three steals. “We didn’t play to our best abil­ity, and Tariq John­son, he’s a good player, and he shot us down tonight; re­spect for him and his team.

“We’ll just have to beat them next time when they come to our court,” Hyn­son added.

The Lions cob­bled to­gether a brief sec­ond-pe­riod surge be­hind se­nior point guard Mikey Mon­roe (13 points, three as­sists, two steals) and sopho­more for­ward Nick Dunkerly (nine points, two steals), the pair trim­ming Kent Is­land’s deficit to 30-23 mid­way through the quar­ter.

Queen Anne’s went ice cold from there, as the Bucs fin­ished the first half on a 9-2 rally, a Josh An­der­son triple and a buck­e­tand-1 by Van Wie fu­el­ing the flour­ish to nudge Kent Is­land’s lead above dou­bledig­its, which was never threat­ened again.

“They sim­ply out­played us on both ends of the floor,” Lions head coach Dale Be­craft said. “We usu­ally han­dle pres­sure well, but we let them speed us up, which led to turnovers and runouts.

“But it was all fu­eled by Tariq,” Be­craft added. “My hat’s off to them.”

Kent Is­land feasted on open­ings cre­ated by Queen Anne’s over­load­ing the de­fense to­ward John­son. The Buc­ca­neers’ press de­fense was also no slouch, the 2-12 look giv­ing the Lions fits at all key junc­tures.

“I think it works re­ally well,” Van Wie said. “Once they start to cover Tariq, it cre­ates shots for me, and once they try to cover me, it cre­ates more shots for Tariq.

“We wanted to get the steals, get the dunks, get the crowd go­ing,” Van Wie added of turn­ing de­fense into of­fense. “The crowd re­ally gets you go­ing, mo­ti­vates you to play your best.”

The teams played evenly in the third, but a 24-point fourth quar­ter by Kent Is­land blew it open.

Miller, who missed his first six shots from the floor, banked in a three­p­ointer in the fourth to break the drought, but had an oth­er­wise solid out­ing with nine re­bounds from the point-guard spot to go with four as­sists.

Miller was also the lead de­fender on the press, where he col­lected three steals to spark the of­fense.

“As soon as we got into the press and fill­ing the spots, it cre­ated a whole lot of open shots,” Miller said. “When I’m not scor­ing, I just put my mind on de­fense and keep the other team from scor­ing.

John­son ap­peared to get stronger as the game pro­gressed, as­sert­ing his will on the in­te­rior while ab­sorb­ing a hand­ful of hard fouls, but ul­ti­mately keep­ing his cool and calmly sink­ing the free­bies.

“I feed off stuff like that,” John­son said. “I knew it was go­ing to hap­pen, and I love it, ac­tu­ally, makes me want to play harder.”

His scor­ing out­burst eclipsed Zach Goodrich’s 41 points against Kent County, oddly enough, two years to the day; Goodrich’s Her­culean ef­fort dur­ing a spec­tac­u­lar se­nior cam­paign was reg­is­tered in a home loss.

John­son said the record is nice, but a ‘W’, es­pe­cially against Queen Anne’s, makes it that much nicer.

“The win is more im­por­tant,” John­son said. “I could have had 42 and we could have lost and it would have meant noth­ing. I just want to keep work­ing hard and stay con­sis­tent.”

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Ay­man_S­tarDem. Email me at aalam@star­dem.com

PHOTO BY CHRIS KNAUSS

Kent Is­land’s Selby Scaggs passes the ball dur­ing the first quar­ter last Fri­day evening against Queen Anne’s.

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