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Johnson’s 33 carries Shelby over Simon Kenton

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Rockets win two straight, kick January slide

By Todd Martin

The Rockets (9-13) showed flashes of being the high-powered team many expected this year in a 75-69 victory over visiting Simon Kenton (7-12) Friday.

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Donovan Johnson exploded for 33 points – on 13-of-17 shooting – and eight rebounds to lead Shelby County.

“That was definitely Donovan’s best game as a Rocket,” SCHS Coach Mike Clark said. “But the most impressive thing I saw when I looked at the stat sheet was his zero turnovers. Against their [Simon Kenton’s] four-guard line-up, that was very impressive for him.”

Johnson also picked up a big assist at the end of the first half. With the clock winding down, Johnson drove into the lane and then kicked the ball out to a wide-open Cache Tomlinson, who buried a 3-pointer to give the Rockets a 37-30 halftime lead.

The Rockets pushed that lead out to 11 before Simon Kenton rallied in the fourth.

“While we played well Friday, we still have a few things to work on,” Clark said. “We had 13 turnovers, which is still too many. Once we got that lead, we let them back in the game with a couple of crucial turnovers.”

However, the Rockets were a sizzling 16-of-17 from the free-throw line, including Boomer Beckley’s 7-of-7 and Johnson’s 6-of-6. Beckley hit four of his in the fourth quarter to help the Rockets hold the lead.

“I was really pleased with the way we played in the fourth quarter, our decision making down the stretch and our free -throw shooting,” Clark said. “Simon Kenton’s a tough match-up because of their four-guard line-up. They pulled our post players out on the perimeter and made them guard their shooters. I thought Nigel Beach and Eric Standafer did a really nice job getting out there and making them work.”

Clark also noted the play of Matthew Purdom and Darryl Hicks off the bench.

“Darryl came up with nine big points for us, and Matthew really provided a spark with his defense,” he said.

Guards Beckley, 17 points, and Tomlinson, 12, joined Johnson in double figures, but it was Johnson, a junior forward, who stole the show.

“Donovan is a tough match-up for any team, but against a team with four guards he is even tougher,” Clark said. “If you put a small guy on him, he can post them up or shoot over them, but if you put a big guy him he can take them outside. His decision making on offense and defense was tremendous He didn’t take a bad shot, he found open shooters and he was very efficient with the ball.”

If Johnson can continue to play this well, Clark said the sky could be the limit for the Rockets.

“Everybody that played made a solid contribution,” he said. “With Donovan it wasn’t that he scored 33 points, but it was how he did it. He didn’t take 25 or 30 shots; he did it on 17 shots. If he can continue to play like he did Friday, we’ll be awfully tough down the stretch.”