Johnson nets 1,000th point in Negaunee victory

Negaunee’s Aleda Johnson, left, looks for a teammate against the defense of Westwood’s Madelyn Koski Friday night at Lakeview Memorial Gym in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Jess Makela)

NEGAUNEE — Aleda Johnson knew she was approaching her 1,000th point as a Miner, but she didn’t know just how close she was when Negaunee hosted Westwood on Friday night.

In the final minutes, Negaunee was well on their way to a 46-25 win, but with their senior guard sitting one point away from that career achievement, head coach Brandon Sager knew he had to get Johnson the ball one final time.

“She had no idea that she was at that point during the game, and we didn’t want to distract her,” Sager said. “She’s one of those kids that puts the team before any accolades, and we knew at the end we had to get her the ball and get the point. It was a special moment and special to catch her off-guard.”

With 30 seconds remaining, Johnson cut right of the paint and was fouled and sent to the free throw line.

After sinking the first attempt, the confused Johnson looked around as the announcement was made, followed by a standing ovation from the crowd and a swarming by her teammates.

“It was really something special,” Johnson said. “It was a shock, and when they stopped the game I got emotional. I immediately looked at Sager because he’s put so much time in the gym with me, and all my coaches are the ones who have helped me get here.”

Johnson recorded another stellar night, leading the game with 16 points followed by her sister Clara Johnson with 15.

After the Patriots jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, the Miners’ offense came alive to score the next 11 baskets.

Clara Johnson went on an 8-0 run of her own to end the first quarter to give Negaunee an 18-5 lead at the end of the period.

Westwood’s defense found success in the first half keeping Negaunee outside the perimeter, closing lanes and turning some passes into turnovers.

But Westwood couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities as they only scored two baskets in the second quarter, while Aleda Johnson dropped a pair of triples to help Negaunee build a 29-9 lead.

Negaunee finished the first half with six triples, disappointing Westwood head coach Kurt Corcoran after his team’s defensive presence in the paint.

“We knew coming in that Negaunee is one of the hottest shooting teams I’ve seen, and we caught them on a hot night,” Corcoran said. “We did a good job with our interior defense early on, but we can’t give up so many 3s.”

The Patriots cut into Negaunee’s lead in the third quarter and outscored the Miners 17-16 in the period, but the Johnson sisters proved to be too much as they scored all of Negaunee’s eight points in the third quarter.

Aleda Johnson opened the fourth quarter nailing a triple to put the Miners back up 20 points and cruise to the win.

Marissa Carello scored nine points to lead Westwood’s scoring as the both teams now stand at 6-4.

Aleda Johnson said her team is using each game to prepare for their ultimate goals.

“We have our eyes on taking the conference and districts, but we’re still taking it one game at a time,” Johnson said. “We feel we can play with anybody, and with our team playing the way we are, who knows where we can end up.”

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.