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