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Friday night, after her Shelby County girls’ basketball team lost to crosstown rival Collins, Rockets assistant coach TaNeisha Johnson found a spot in the bleachers in Mike Casey Gymnasium to watch the boys’ game between the two schools and prepared to cheer...for the Titans.
“The Titans?!” you might say.
But, as many of you likely know, Johnson is no turncoat. She is the older sister of Collins senior guard Buddy Johnson.
“No matter what, I always cheer for Buddy,” said TaNeisha Johnson, who at 28 is 11 years older than her brother, last week.
And big sis had plenty to cheer on Friday, even if she did so more internally than externally.
Buddy Johnson scored a game-high 24 points, knocking down five 3-pointers, in leading Collins to a 79-57 victory over the Rockets.
“She cheers for me, but when it’s girls’ basketball, she’s all for county,” Buddy said.
That makes sense, because before TaNeisha was an assistant coach for Mike Sowers, she was a standout for Shelby County. As a sophomore she was a key player on the Rockets team that lost to West Carter, 58-50, in the 2000 state championship game (she hit 19 of 22 free throws against Presentation in the state quarterfinals).
Her little brother Buddy (a.k.a. Deshaun) – whose nickname is derived from people calling him “little buddy” when he was younger – was a fixture at his sister’s games with the Rockets and later when she played at Morehead State.
“I always came to her high school games and went to some of her college games too,” Buddy said.
And usually he was one of those knee-high tykes running out on the court at halftime or after the game, grabbing a basketball and shooting at the goal.
“It was always him on the floor any chance he could get,” TaNeisha said. “He was out there, and he could just shoot it and swish it.”
All the while he was looking up to his sister.
“She was always succeeding. I always wanted to be just like her,” Buddy said.
These days, his older sister is a regular at his games.
“Any time that we don’t have a game, I try to go to his games,” TaNeisha said.
And even sometimes when the Rockets do, like last Tuesday night when they played at Iroquois at 6 p.m. TaNeisha was able to get back to Collins to see the fourth quarter of the Titans’ game against Trinity.
“I enjoy having him around. I’ll miss him next year [when he’s at college],” Taneisha said.
But she won’t be the only one. TaNeisha’s son, Omari, 4, is often his uncle’s shadow.
“My little boy is stuck to his hip. Anywhere Buddy goes, he goes,” TaNeisha said.
One place Buddy still wants to go, following in the high-tops of his sister, is to the Sweet 16.
“It’s always what I’ve wanted to be able to do,” he said.
And if he and the Titans do, you can bet his big sister will be in the stands cheering him on.