OAKWOOD -- Even while watching his team erase an early deficit with a decisive second quarter run, Johnson coach Jeff Steele is a hard man to please.
Trailing 14-10, the Knights exploded for a 20-2 run in a six minute span to grab control en route to a 77-38 win over Stephens County Friday night in both teams' Region 8-AAAA opener. But the many expressions of Steele offered a somewhat different picture of the blow-out win.
"I was extremely upset with how we started the game," Steele said. "We wanted them to be aggressive and they had a different interpretation. We like to run. I don't think there are many teams that can run with us when we're on our game. But you saw what happens when we don't play our game."
The Knights had six turnovers in the first six minutes, missed their first four 3-pointers, and allowed the Indians several easy baskets as they led most of the first quarter.
But as sloppy as the first six minutes were for the Knights, they more than made up for it in the next six minutes.
Drew Dunham would spark things with two steals and dishing out three straight assists, including a nifty pass to Carter Cagle for a 3-pointer to give the Knights the lead for good at 17-16 less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Cagles' trey ignited a 20-2 Johnson run where five different players dished out assists and six different players scored. Justin Jones would drain a 3-pointer and Dunham would cap a 30-9 second quarter for the Knights with a layup off an assist from Ty Cockfield for a 42-23 halftime
"I really thought it started with our defense and rebounding," Steele said about the turnaround. "We started playing aggressive and that led to better defense and getting into our transition game."
Johnson (11-3, 1-0 Region 8-AAAA) would force 21 Stephens County turnovers and outrebound the Indians 46-20 for the game. The Knights also dished out 18 assists, with six different players recording at least one.
James Hodges would be on the receiving end of several of those assists to finish with a game-high 17 points for Johnson. Cagle added 13 points and six rebounds and Rod English had 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Knights. Cockfield had nine points, seven assists, and six rebounds and Dunham finished with nine points and five assists.
Jamal Winters led Stephens County with eight points and three assists. Six points and all three assists for Winters came in the first six minutes of the game.
Stephens County (2-11, 0-1) came out ready to pull the upset. The Indians jumped out to a 4-0 lead and forced four quick Johnson turnovers. The Knights also struggled with their outside shooting missing their first four 3-pointers and shooting just 2-for-9 in the opening minutes.
Stephens County led 14-10 late in the first quarter before Johnson finally started to warm up.
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Stephens County used a 22-0 run in the first half to erase and early deficit and then cruise to the win.
Johnson took the early lead on a basket by Hannah Hester and would push the lead to 7-4 midway through the first quarter.
But the Lady Indians (9-7, 1-0 Region 8-AAAA) exploded holding Johnson to just one 3-pointer over the final 11 minutes of the half while building a 28-10 halftime lead.
Stephens County started strong in the second half extending the lead to 36-10 early in the third quarter. The Lady Knights (1-10, 0-1) cut the lead to 46-24 by the end of the third quarter.
Stephens would lead by as many as 28 three times.
Johnson's Sarah Williams led all-scorers with 23 points.
Emily Mote paced Stephens County with 12 points. Mya Cleveland added 10 for the Lady Indians.