Saturday, March 10, 2001

Conner ends NewCath's reign

Johnson leads Cougars with 22

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer contributor

Conner's Bryan Curry celebrates with Chris Brown after beating NCC.
(Craig Ruttle photos)
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        COVINGTON — Marcus Johnson scored 22 points and hit two free throws late in overtime to lead Conner to a 57-53 win over defending Ninth Region champion Newport Central Catholic Friday night in the semifinals at Holmes.

        Conner meets Highlands - a 49-46 overtime winner over Simon Kenton - for the title at 7 p.m. tonight.

        “We just wanted to come in and play well.” Johnson said. “And if scoring helps our team, then I'll do it. When I was open, people were getting me the ball.”

        And did Johnson know what to do with it: five 3-pointers; 5-of-5 from the field in the first half; and 7-of-8 for the game.

        Conner coach Scott Thomas benched Johnson midway through the season in favor of 6-5 senior Justin Ballou — partly because he wanted a taller lineup, and partly “to motivate Marcus.

        “He needed a little extra push,” Thomas said. “He brings leadership and somebody who's been through the ropes in tight situations. He's been there before.”

Ronny Dawn couldn't save the day for NCC.
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        Johnson didn't mind the demotion.

        “He just wanted to shake things up,” Johnson said. “You don't change things when they work.”

        But there were other reasons Conner won.

        Senior guard Jeremy Stephenson and senior center Terry Johnson scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. Stephenson's 3-pointer and two free throws put Conner (23-5) ahead to stay at 53-50 with 1:29 left.

        Also, Conner held NewCath to 21-of-55 shooting for the game, including 5-of-23 from 3-point range. Senior guard Ronny Dawn led NewCath with 17 points.

        CONNER (57): Hudgens 0 2 2, M. Johnson 7 3 22, Stephenson 5 3 15, T. Johnson 4 6 14, Ballou 2 0 4. Totals: 18 14 57.

        NEWPORT CENTRAL CATHOLIC (53): Bonhaus 4 1 10, Colson 4 1 9, R. Dawn 6 2 17, Little 1 0 2, Myers 3 2 8, Lynn 3 0 7. Totals: 21 6 53.

        Conner ....... 9 14 18 7 9-57

        Newport CC ....... 13 8 17 10 5-53

        Three-point goals: C-M. Johnson 5, Stephenson; NCC-R. Dawn 3, Lynn, Bonhaus. Records: C 23-5, NCC 26-7.

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