Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Hot winter Knight
Johnson leads Hempfield past Streaks in OT BY ED GRUVER, Sports Staff
Drew Johnson saved his best game for the endgame.
Scoring seven points over the first three quarters Friday night against L-L Section One rival Manheim Township, Hempfield's star guard stepped up in the fourth and scored 17 over the final 12 minutes.
Producing 10 points in the fourth quarter alone, Johnson drained a deep, NBA-range 3-ball from the top of the arc with nine seconds remaining to force overtime.
The 6-foot-2 senior then scored seven of his team's 11 points in the extra period and finished with a game-high 24 to pace the Knights to a dramatic 55-50 win on Senior Night in Landisville.
"Us seniors, we talked before the game about this being our last time coming out on this court in front of our fans, and we knew we had to leave it out there on the court, no matter what the ending was," Johnson said.
"We can't complain with that ending. Can't even dream it. No words for it."
No words for a flip-the-script final against a Blue Streaks squad that beat the Knights, 58-54, in Neffsville on Jan. 7.
No words for a Senior Night that saw Johnson and fellow seniors Zach Walter (11 points) and Shaun Corso (game-best 9 rebounds) close their careers on their home court in memorable fashion.
Hempfield's win, coupled with Cedar Crest's loss to section champion McCaskey, lifts the Knights (9-6 L-L, 12-8 overall) into a tie with the Falcons (9-6, 13-8) and Warwick (9-6, 11-10) for Section One's second league playoff berth.
The Streaks (8-7, 10-10) drop a game back.
One game remains in the L-L's regular season. Hempfield heads to McCaskey Tuesday, while Township hosts Warwick and Crest plays at Penn Manor.
The tight race mirrors Section One's close outcomes this winter.
"We've been in many close games this season," Hempfield head coach Danny Walck said. "You have to persevere. The kids never gave up on each other, never gave up on this game."
Neither did Township, which rallied from an early 10-point deficit to claim its first lead at 22-21 three minutes into the third quarter on a free throw by Alex Ready (11 points).
The second half saw several lead changes. Hempfield rode a 7-0 run to a 39-33 advantage midway through the fourth before Seth Brewer (team-high 15 points) and the Streaks countered with a run of nine straight points to surge ahead, 42-39.
Dylan Bleacher's rebound basket for Hempfield was answered by Brewer's two free throws, setting the stage for Johnson's game-tying trey.
"That was pretty deep," Walck said. "That was a little deeper than NBA (range); it was a step back.
"That was a senior saying he's not losing his last regular season game at home. He refused to be denied."
Walck said the play wasn't designed specifically for Johnson, who has 24 threes this season, twice as many as anyone on the Knights.
"They know who they need to go to," Walck added.
Johnson said the shot felt good from the moment it left his hand.
"I saw it going right in," he said. "I knew it was going to fall."
He scored the first five points in OT, including another trey, this from the left wing, to give the Knights the lead for good.
Galen Arbogast and Brewer each responded with a three for the Streaks, but the Knights ran down the clock before Brandon Criswell and Johnson clinched the win by combining for the final four points.
"There's a lot of basketball to be played," Walck said. "We have to keep battling, keep grinding it out."