The Hilltoppers, however, began to slowly find ways to take Johnson’s offense out of the game, much to the credit of Schlarman Academy senior Chris Kuchefski who finished the game with eight blocks. One of his blocks came on Johnson’s first shot attempt of the second quarter.
“I thought I had a beat on him a couple times, but he’s awesome,” Johnson said. “He’s a great player with great length. He’s well-disciplined. I like his game a lot.”
Johnson, who finished the game with 22 points and nine rebounds, made only three more shots (and four free throws) the rest of the game.
Armstrong-Potomac guard Austin Rademacher and Corey Buhr picked up the slack, finishing with 13 and nine points respectively. Rademacher also finished with a game-high 10 rebounds and had two steals.
Schlarman Academy led 35-33 at the end of the third quarter, and never trailed by more than four in the first three quarters. Armstrong-Potomac (2-7, 1-1) took its final lead at 36-35 with seven minutes, two seconds to play on a free throw by Rademacher. Johnson had just tied the game moments earlier on a basket following a turnover.
The Hilltoppers were forced into a total of 15 turnovers in the game with six coming on steals, while the Trojans committed only nine. Five of Armstrong-Potomac’s turnovers came in the first period.
Schlarman Academy has now lost its first seven games of the season. Though there could be plenty of frustration building in the Hilltoppers’ locker room, they are remaining optimistic.
“The message, really, was just going back to the basics,” first-year Schlarman Academy coach Jason Henton said. “Cleaning up these small issues. We’re right where we want to be, we’ve just got to clean up these small issues to get over that hump.