North County's 6-foot senior forward Renita Johnson had both good times and bad in last night's season-opening 57-35 basketball victory over visiting South River.
The good ones, her 29 points, 21 rebounds, and 13-of-15 free-throw shooting, were reminiscent of her all-around performance of nine months ago in the Class 4A Region IV quarterfinals against La Plata.
In that game, she scored 22 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and had seven blocked shots.
But last night's game also featured Johnson's dreadful three-point second quarter, in which she and 5-11 sophomore center Joy Farmer (14 points, 15 boards) each picked up their third fouls and had to leave the game briefly.
That recalled Johnson's season-ending performance against Broadneck -- a 51-34 loss in the region semifinal -- in which she also got in foul trouble and she recalled "crying after the game."
"I don't want to get down on myself so much this year," said Johnson, who had three assists last night. "I've got to be able to play hard all the time and to give the team a talk when I need to."
The Knights (1-0), ranked No. 18 by The Sun, had taken a 16-0 first-quarter lead behind Farmer (six points) and Johnson (five) and the backcourt play of junior Nicole Faulkner (six assists and two steals).
The lead was 18-0 before South River's Peggy Schreiber (a team-high 14 points) scored her team's first bucket with6 minutes, 26 seconds left in the first half.
Then Schreiber, a scrappy senior forward, scored six of her team's next 11 points as thevisitors cut the deficit to 23-13 at intermission.
But Johnson equaled the Seahawks' scoring for that period with 13 markers in the fourth. In all, she scored 21 second-half points.
"I was nervous at first, playing with someone like Renita," said Farmer, playing in only her second varsity game. In her first, against Annapolis last year,she grabbed 25 rebounds.
"I know I can't be like Renita, but I can try to play up to her," said Farmer. "She's a great role model."
There were plays like Johnson's double-pump layup late in the third quarter, and another play where she dished off an assist to Emma Ketterle, who scored her only bucket on the play.
"It's our first gameof the year, so we were rushing everything. We just needed to slow down," said Johnson, who averaged 14.7 points, 10 boards and had 46 blocks last season.
She left the game with 2:30 remaining and her team leading, 55-32.
Schreiber said, "'No. 23 (Johnson) was the difference in the game."
"We got down early, and we're kind of a youngteam," said Schreiber, whose team was coming off of a season-opening41-40 victory over Leonardtown.