The Post-Journal

Johnson’s 51-Point Effort At ‘The Mac’ Still Resonates

Justin Johnson's jersey is retired by Ben Drake.
In this February 2020 file photo, Justin Johnson, left, receives his framed Jamestown High School jersey from head coach Ben Drake. P-J file photo by Scott Kindberg.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article appeared in The Post-Journal on Feb. 19, 1994, the day after Jamestown High School’s Justin Johnson poured in 51 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out five assists.

Electricity filled the air Friday night at a jam-packed McElrath Gymnasium at Jamestown High School.

And Justin Johnson was plugged in.


The 6-foot-8 senior poured in a school-record 51 points — breaking his old mark by a point — and the red-hot Red Raiders (15-5), before an estimated crowd of 2.300, downed the Fredonia Hillbillies (14-6), 89-77, in a nonleague game that more than lived up to its hyped-up advanced billing.

Justin Johnson shoots.
In this February 1994 file photo, Jamestown’s Justin Johnson puts up a jumper at McElrath Gymnasium. P-J file photo.

Johnson, who scored 49 points against Fredonia two months ago, continued his dominance against the Hillbillies last night, connecting on 19 of 26 shots and all 11 of his free throws, while grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out five assists.

“All his accomplishments are just phenomenal, just like the ballgame tonight,” Jamestown coach Ron Frederes said. “There’s not enough adjectives to describe him. He did it again tonight.”

Johnson, in tandem with 6-4¢ senior Tom Bailey (24 points, 12 rebounds), was unstoppable inside as the Red Raiders, who shot an amazing 35 of 47 (74 percent), regularly fed the big men underneath.

And in the third quarter, Johnson and Bailey delivered a staggering blow to the Hillbillies, transforming a 42-41 Jamestown halftime lead into a 68-56 advantage after three quarters.

Johnson poured in 18 points in the period, including 12 in a row at one point, while Bailey added 6 as the duo thoroughly dominated play.

Meanwhile, Fredonia’s Mike Heary (33 points, five rebounds), who scored 21 points in the first half, was held scoreless in the third quarter as Bailey and junior Don Dalrymple — playing a diamond-and-one — did a fine job of shadowing the senior standout.

“They totally disrupted us offensively,” Hillbillies coach Dave Polechetti said. “Their halfcourt pressure in the second half was a big, big factor. We have a veteran team and we have no excuses if we can’t handle that. … Give them credit for disrupting us, but shame on us because we’re supposed to be one of the better teams going into the sectionals and I don’t think we showed we were a championship-caliber team tonight.”

Senior Mike Haight (23 points, six rebounds) kept Fredonia within striking distance by scoring 8 points in the third quarter, but the Hillbillies entered the final eight minutes reeling.

“(Heary) didn’t get that many unmolested shots,” Frederes said. “That’s what I wanted, I’m deathly afraid of what he can do offensively. … I thought we did a pretty good job. To say (Dalrymple and Bailey) held him to 33, they held him below his average, right?”

Heary, who was averaging 33.8 points entering the game, got untracked in the fourth quarter, pumping in 12 points, while Haight added 9, but every time the Hillbillies closed the gap — they trimmed the margin to 7 with 1:11 remaining — Johnson and Bailey were there to squelch the rally. Johnson scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and Bailey added 8, 4 of them on thundering dunks.

“Today our whole team was ready to play,” Johnson said. “We were all hyped up to beat Fredonia. We hadn’t beaten them in a while. … I guess when you play hard good things happen.”

And good things continue to happen for the Red Raiders.

Winners of 11 of 13 games since Jan. 1, Jamestown heads into the Section VI playoffs on a roll, the kind of roll Frederes had been hoping for.

“We’ve improved a lot,” he said. “We’re playing well together and I think we’re pretty happy with ourselves. We are pretty good at this point and now we have to continue playing.”

For the Hillbillies, the prospects aren’t quite as bright as Polechetti would like.

“I’m having second thoughts whether we can make a run in the sectionals because Jamestown is a playoff-caliber team and we have to do a better job against a team like this because this is the kind of competition we’ll be seeing in the sectionals,” he said. “If we’re going to have a hard time with a team the caliber of Jamestown, we can’t expect to win the sectionals or we can’t expect to make a run. It’s as simple as that.”

Of course, it’s unlikely that any B-2 opponent will have someone the caliber of Johnson in the paint.

“He’s just a terrific inside player,” Heary said of his rival. “He makes the catch on the lob pass. … He’s getting hung on and everything and then he turns around with a soft touch. He’s killed us in two games.”

For those wondering, Johnson is averaging an even 50 points per game against the Hillbillies this season.

“I have a size advantage against this team and my teammates do a nice job of getting me the ball,” Johnson said. “They make it easy.”

No, Justin, on this night, you made it look easy.

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