T. Johnson relies on a Thomas to defeat Westminster

Guard scores 30 points to ground Owls, 72-59

Boys basketball

January 06, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

FREDERICK - Thomas Johnson owned the Central Maryland Conference for almost eight seasons until Westminster ended the Patriots' 76-game league winning streak last season.

The Patriots (5-2 overall, 3-0 league) earned a little payback last night at home as they combined a smart defense with a patient half-court offense and rode Division I prospect Jermaine Thomas to a 72-59 victory over the No. 16-ranked Owls (7-2, 1-1).

Thomas, a junior guard who averages 19 points, scored 30 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and made six assists. He also shot 10-for-10 from the foul line in the second quarter.

"We didn't have anyone to match up on him," Westminster coach Dave Byers said. "He has good quickness and size, and can play. He overpowers you on the boards."

Costly turnovers plagued the normally good ball-handling Owls.

"We haven't played anyone that plays that kind of excellent half-court defense," Byers said. "They get into the passing lanes and overplay so they are out front when they create a turnover and in good position to convert it into a score."

Thomas Johnson scored three times in the first quarter off turnovers and led 18-11.

"Take away five or six of those turnovers that led to baskets and it was pretty even," Byers said.

Thomas Johnson tried to shut down Westminster's leading scorer, Jon-David Byers, but the shooting guard had 24 points. He averages 24.7 points.

Westminster likes to screen for Byers to shoot three-pointers, but Thomas Johnson stayed with the screen and denied Byers any easy looks. He still sank three three-pointers.

"You can't really stop him. He's a terrific shooter. And their point guard is also a good player," said Patriots coach Tom Dickman.

In addition to Thomas, the Patriots received a strong game from Joe Higbee, who had 19 points and six rebounds, and guarded the shorter Byers. Higbee posted down low several times and was tough to stop from there, as he either made a layup or drew a foul.

After the Owls cut the Patriots' lead to 54-48 in the third quarter on a three-pointer by Byers, Higbee scored back-to-back baskets on a layup and a rebound and later added a free throw to push Thomas Johnson's lead to 59-50 after three quarters.

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