Strong second effort sparks Whitefish Bay Dominican over Brookfield Central
Knights' Johnson finds her groove
It was 8 p.m. Wednesday, but Dilonna Johnson needed a wakeup call.
Sluggish, lethargic and listless, Johnson - a junior guard for Whitefish Bay Dominican's girls basketball team - was all of the above during the first half of the Knights' game with Brookfield Central.
"Yeah, I was getting frustrated," said Johnson, a Drake recruit. "I knew I had to get going."
Boy, did she ever.
After scoring just two first-half points, Johnson erupted for 18 in the second half. Johnson's big finish helped the Lady Knights notch an impressive 51-40 win over the Lancers in the championship game of the Chris Griffin Holiday Tournament held at Milwaukee Vincent.
Dominican, which improved to 8-0, also got 16 points from junior forward Deysha Smith-Jenkins. Central (5-3) got 16 points from junior forward Anna Liewen and shot 54.8% from the floor (17 of 31), but couldn't overcome 26 turnovers.
"I thought that was a great effort by our girls," Dominican coach Kevin Schramka said. "To beat a quality opponent like that should be a great springboard for us."
Johnson is a huge reason the Knights are springing into the new year. Central coach Dan Wandrey said much of his Wednesday morning practice centered on not allowing Johnson to get open looks.
That strategy worked for roughly 20 minutes as Central built a 23-19 lead and Johnson had just four points. But over the final 12 minutes, Johnson and the Knights took off.
Dominican went on an 11-2 run in the final 4 minutes of the third quarter to take a 30-25 lead to the fourth. Johnson, who had nine points in the period, had seven during the Knights' burst.
Wandrey, whose team switched from a 2-3 zone to a 1-2-1-1 in the third quarter, was asked how Johnson got rolling.
"How? When we stopped guarding her," the Lancers' sarcastic coach said.
Central, which prides itself on defense, struggled to contain Johnson in the fourth as well. In one 90-second stretch, Johnson knocked down three straight three-pointers - all on wide-open looks - as Dominican's lead grew to as many as 10.
Central pulled within six points on two occasions. But the Knights made five of six free throws in the final 2 minutes and held on.
"I think this gives us a state of mind that if we play our hardest, the end result will be in our favor," Johnson said.
Both teams struggled to gain an edge during a choppy first half.
Dominican led, 15-14, but shot a miserable 5 of 27 from the field (18.5%). On the flip side, the Lancers had a tough time simply getting shots. Central shot a respectable 6 of 15 from the floor (40.0%) but had a whopping 14 turnovers, including four five-second violations.
"Their defense pushed us away from everything we wanted to do," Wandrey said.
Central got back-to-back three-pointers from senior Maddy Flynn midway through the third quarter to take a 23-19 lead - its biggest of the night. But from there, Johnson took over.
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