P.K. Yonge girls hoops stuns 'Cats


Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

After three periods and down 16 points to the No. 1 team in Class 7A Tuesday night, the P.K. Yonge Blue Wave girls basketball team didn’t flinch, didn’t give up.

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P.K. Yonge guard Niya Johnson drives the ball against Buchholz on Tuesday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

Not on senior night. Not with Niya Johnson on their side.

Johnson scored 17 of her season-high 49 points in the fourth, as P.K. Yonge outscored Buchholz 36-12 down the stretch to stun the Bobcats, 85-77, in the final regular-season game for both teams.

The postseason awaits both teams, who seem poised to make state title runs in their respective classifications. But on this night, it was the Class 3A home-standing Blue Wave getting the better of the upper-classification Bobcats.

“I just kept telling them to weather the storm,” said P.K. Yonge coach Willie Powers, whose team, ranked No. 2 in 3A according to Source Hoops, improved to 20-1 on the season. “We had to defend, and once we got some stops we got some easy baskets. Once we get on a roll we are pretty hard to stop.”

Buchholz led only 34-32 at the half, but seized command in the third, getting balanced scoring from Jessica Thomas, Mariah Harris and Onteria Maddox, for a 31-point quarter and a 65-49 lead going into the final eight minutes of the game.

The Blue Wave then turned up the defensive pressure.

A basket by Jazlynd Rollins gave the Bobcats their longest lead of the game, at 69-52, but then P.K. Yonge took over. Behind Johnson and Aariel Allen (12 points), the Blue Wave went on a 19-2 run, tying the game at 71-all with 3:30 to play. Tori Baggett gave Buchholz its last lead with a short jumper (73-71), but six straight points by P.K. Yonge, capped by a Johnson basket, put them ahead 77-73.

Thomas connected on a 3-pointer to pull the Bobcats within one, but Johnson then scored six of P.K.’s next eight points, four on free throws, as the Blue Wave faithful celebrated a huge win.

“We just kept our heads up and kept pushing,” said Johnson, who scored 44 points in P.K.’s only loss of the season to Gainesville earlier this month. “Every possession is important, so it was important that we got the 50-50 balls. We had to attack them because they were in foul trouble and also jam up because they were getting tired in the fourth. That is when we made our run.”

The Blue Wave converted on 23 of 35 free throws.

Thomas and Harris combined for 38 points for Buchholz, which dropped to 22-3 on the season.

“I want everyone to know this game didn’t hurt Buchholz at all,” said Bobcats coach Rebecca Williams. “This was not for the city championship. City champs don’t make the big news. But like I told them a loss can be good.”

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