Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
Miles Johnson was already getting his feet wet this season.
Cardinal O’Hara’s 6-foot-3 wing played last season on the JV team, so the rigors of the Philadelphia Catholic League were something new.
“It’s a big step,” Johnson said.
When senior Christian Cervellero went down with a fractured wrist against Roman Catholic last week, Johnson had to take another.
Making the second start of his career in a rivalry game at Archbishop Carroll on Friday night, Johnson broke out for 21 points to help O’Hara to a 68-61 win in front of a packed house.
“He was real big,” said O’Hara junior Aasim Burton, who added 16. “All he has to do is get his confidence. We’ve been telling him to stay confident. Losing Chev, he’s got a fracture in his wrist, we just told him to stay confident, you’re going to have to step up this game.”
O'Hara junior Miles Johnson had a career night in a win over Carroll on Friday. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Johnson is a strong athletic wing and said his role is usually to come in and be a “dog” for O’Hara. Coach Ryan Nemetz said his role to start the season was to come off the bench, and he did a lot of the “smaller things” for the Lions. That was rebounding, defense, rim running, shot blocking and all kind of the underappreciated aspects of the game. His offense was an afterthought, averaging 2.9 ppg entering Friday night and combining for five points in two PCL games.
Once again taking Cervellero’s (7.5 ppg) spot in the lineup, Johnson made an impact on the offensive end immediately, scoring nine first-quarter points to help the Lions (9-3, 2-2 PCL) a 15-12 first quarter lead.
“It’s just confidence,” Johnson said. “When I got that first shot, that’s just what turned it up. Ever since that I was not rushing it, still having patience and just shoot it whenever I get the chance.”
Junior forward Pearse MGuinn, who followed Johnson with 12 points, had a big second quarter as O’Hara got its lead over Carroll (10-3, 2-2) as large as eight before going into half with a 30-25 advantage.
Johnson got going again in the third quarter, when he scored another 10 points, to put the Lions up 43-31 with about three and half minutes left in the period.
“We’re pretty balanced when it comes to scoring if you look at the box scores,” Nemetz said. “When the ball finds you it’s about making the right play and tonight it found him in the right spots and he made shots and got rebounds and finished around the rim. People weren’t scouting him. They were focusing on Izaiah, focusing on Flash, focusing on Pearse, so he kind of found his way around the court tonight and the guys found him, which was nice.”
O'Hara's Josh Coulanges goes up for a layup Friday against Carroll. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)
Carroll sophomore guard Jake West and senior wing Blake Deegan rallied the Patriots back into the game with a 10-2 run to cut that deficit to 45-41 with 42.7 seconds left in the third. West finished with 20 points and Deegan scored six of his eight points in the third.
O’Hara made those last 42 seconds of the quarter count, however. Senior guard Izaiah Pasha pushed the ball up the floor and found Johnson for a corner three. After getting the ball back, he found Burton, who had 14 points, in the corner for a buzzer beating three. Suddenly, the Lions were back up double digits, 51-41 entering the fourth.
They carried that momentum into the fourth with five more straight points. A Josh Coulanges three capped an 11-0 run that put O’Hara ahead 56-41 with seven minutes left.
“Major,” Burton said of the importance of those two threes to end the third. “One of our top players, Izaiah Pasha, gave me a good pass in the corner, and I just knocked it down for him. It started to get hype. That’s when most of our energy came.”
O’Hara had 14-point leads over Roman Catholic and Archbishop Wood in losses leading up to Friday’s game. They let Carroll creep back in, cutting the lead to 66-61 on a West three with 26.8 seconds left. The Patriots even got a steal but never cut it to a one-possession game as the Lions held on with relative ease this time to move back into a tight PCL race.
“It’s just working together,” Johnson said. “We saw in the Wood game we kind of just were a little hectic. I feel like this game we were just more like a team. The chemistry was great and everything. That’s what happens. When we’re up 15, we just gotta stick with it.”
Cervellero will miss at least two more weeks with his injury, so the Lions will continue to look for Johnson to start some big games with Archbishop Ryan up next on Monday.
“I think it’s big for him,” Nemetz said. “Confidence has always been big for him. He’s a super athletic player, he’s super skilled, he gets after it and for him to have this success it’s awesome to see for him. I’m proud of him too because he puts in the work. Now that he has the confidence, hopefully he can keep it going.”
Cardinal O’Hara: 15 | 15 | 21 | 17 || 68
Archbishop Carroll: 12 | 13 | 16 | 20 || 61
Cardinal O’Hara: Miles Johnson 21, Aasim Burton 16, Pearse McGuinn 12, Izaiah Pasha 8, Josh Coulanges 5, Anthony Hobbs 4, Schulcz 2.
Archbishop Carroll: Jake West 20, Su’meer Alleyne 8, Blake Deegan 8, Dean Coleman-Newsome 8, Williams 6, Khair Dixon 6, Nasir Ralls 5.