Garrett Johnson's 31 points lead Jericho to Nassau Class A final
Garrett Johnson missed his first three shots Wednesday night. Two of them were three-pointers. One was an air ball. Foreshadowing? Hardly.
Johnson hit his next four shots, three of them from downtown. He was on his way and so was Jericho.
Johnson, Long Island's leading three-point shooter, canned seven from beyond the arc, scored 31 points and led No. 2 Jericho to a 63-50 victory over No. 11 Valley Stream South in the second Nassau Class A semifinal at SUNY-Old Westbury.
"Anything I caught, I was looking," said Johnson, who entered the game averaging 23.5 points. He improved that as well as raising his three-point total to 60. It was a Johnson & Johnson first half, as he scored 11 in the first quarter and 12 in the second, leading the Jayhawks to a 37-22 halftime advantage that was never seriously threatened.
Another important story line for Jericho (17-3), which will face Roslyn for the Nassau A championship at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra, was the defensive job Derek Medolla did on Valley Stream South's Diego Maldonado, who came into the game averaging 21.4 points and is a dangerous long-range shooter.
"The plan was, as soon as he crossed half-court, my job was not to let him touch the ball," said Medolla, who had a fine all-around game with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Medolla held Maldonado to a single point after three quarters. Maldonado did sink two three-pointers and scored the Falcons' last 12 points. But they essentially came during garbage time. "Without Derek's defense, we don't win the game," Johnson said.
Medolla returned the compliment. "When I got the ball down low, I'd draw a double-team and kick it out to Garrett. He was making a lot of open shots."
Johnson had four treys in the first half and three more after the break. He does that sort of thing so often that Jericho coach Wally Bachman wasn't a bit bothered about the slow start. "I just let him go," Bachman said. "He's one of the best players on Long Island and he can score from inside and outside."
Wednesday night, Johnson was an outside influence.