Indians eliminated from playoffs by Johnstown
By ROB HAMILTON
An incredible offensive performance by Johnstown’s William Orr led to an early exit from the boys’ basketball playoffs for Mount Gilead Saturday.
Orr scored 36 points in leading his Johnny team past the Indians by a 56–50 margin. While no other player for Johnstown scored more than six points, that big game by Orr was enough to advance them past Mount Gilead.
“He’s the best shooter I’ve seen in a long time,” said Mount Gilead coach Tom Cooper of Orr. “I was just hoping we could have done a bit better in making it hard on him.”
Orr scored 18 points for Johnstown in the first half, but the Indians led 27–20 thanks to a strong second quarter.
Despite getting four points each from Ethan Harris and Logan Chapman, Mount Gilead trailed 12–11 after eight minutes of play. However, Harris opened the period with a putback and Payton Vanderkooi added a three-pointer to give the Indians a four-point lead.
Leading 19–18 with three minutes to play in the period, Mount Gilead went on an 8–2 run sparked by four points from Harris and a basket-and-free throw combo from Vanderkooi to take the lead into the locker room.
That lead would be short-lived, though. Orr opened the half with a three-pointer and Cody Farley added back-to-back baskets to knot the game at 27.
“We told them at halftime that whoever won the four-minute war out of halftime would win the game and, unfortunately, Johnstown won it,” said Cooper.
After taking a 30-second timeout, the Indians regained the lead on a Harris basket. The action was back-and-forth for the rest of the quarter, with Mount Gilead going up by a 34–33 margin at the end of hte period after Xavier Harris stole the ball and drove for a lay-up, was fouled and hit his free throw.
Johnstown would start the fourth quarter much like they did the third, though, scoring the first five points of the period to take a 38–34 lead.
The Indians got a basket and free throw from Xavier Harris and a three-pointer from Vanderkooi to tie things up at 40–40, but a three-and-a-half minute scoring drought allowed the Johnnies to move in front by seven.
While the Indians tried to fight back down the stretch, they were unable to erase that deficit completely. Late three-pointers by Nic Pomeroy, Mike Chatfield and Vanderkooi helped bring the team within a 52–50 margin with 14 seconds to play, but Johnstown made four free throws down the stretch and the Indians would not score again.
Cooper noted that while his team gave a strong effort in their final game, they simply didn’t shoot well from the floor.
“We tell the guys all the time to work hard on lay-ups and free throws because games come down to them, but we missed too many,” he said. “We played hard all night. I told the guys I was proud of our effort. We played extremely hard — unfortunately, Johnstown plahyed better.”
For the Indians, Vanderkooi scored a team-high 15, while Ethan Harris scored 13 and Xavier Harris added eight.
The team, which finished its season with a 16–7 mark, will graduate Vanderkooi, Ethan Harris, Pomeroy, Chapman and Chatfield — giving the younger players some big shoes to fill. Cooper noted that those seniors, including four-year varsity players Vanderkooi and Ethan Harris, who were part of more total wins than any group in school history, did a lot to improve the program.
“We’re proud of these seniors,” he said. “They’ve shown these younger guys what it’s like to be winners. Hopefully, we can keep building on it and get the program where we want it to be.”