Blue Wave riding high behind senior


Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 12:11 a.m.

P.K. Yonge girls basketball coach Willie Powers said he'll look back on Crystal Johnson's high school career fondly and often.

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P.K. Yonge senior point guard Crystal Johnson has led her school to two straight final fours.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun

That is in great part because she was there for him when others were running away.

"We had five players leave the program (after the 2004 season)," Powers said. "They didn't want to do things the way I wanted them done. I wasn't going to change the way I have always coached, so they needed to adapt or move on.

"But of the players we still have here now, only Crystal and (senior center) Andrea Potter stuck around. They were willing to do things my way."

It has paid off.

The Blue Wave have reached two straight FHSAA Class 3A final fours and at 17-0, appear to be favorites to make a return trip to Lakeland.

Much of that has to do with his 5-foot-7 Georgia State signee.

If Powers tells Johnson the team needs 35 points out of her, she can get that. If he asks her to shoot less and pass more, a double-digit assist count is possible.

Need her to focus on locking down an opposing player? She'll do that, too.

But even with her 19 points, four assists and three-steals-a-game, Powers said the best part of her game is something not usually associated with point guards.

"It's her rebounding," Powers said of Johnson, who is averaging close to seven rebounds a game. "We're not as big as we have been in recent seasons, so we asked her to do more of that and she's really stepped up."

The Blue Wave will need as much of Johnson at her best if they are going to capture the state championship that has been elusive so far.

In 2006 they were eliminated in the state semifinals with a 75-55 loss to eventual champ Tallahassee Florida High. And last year Miramar Parkway defeated P.K. Yonge 63-54 in the semifinals.

Both Powers and Johnson say the Blue Wave's opponents deserve credit for their play, but Johnson added that if her team plays together and shoots better, the results could be different this February.

Johnson said she wants very badly to win a state championship, but doesn't believe her career will be incomplete without one.

"I've been able to accomplish a lot, the biggest thing for me personally is getting (a college scholarship)," Johnson said. "So, I do feel like I don't need (the title), but we're going to keep working hard to win one.

"We've put a lot into it."

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