In a close race for Southern Piedmont Player of the Year honors, East Lincoln senior Trishtan Johnson edged Cherryville sophomore Justin Johnson for the prestigious award.
While it wasnâ€™t a surprise to some, Johnson himself was floored when he received the news Thursday night.
â€œIâ€™m real excited. I just started laughing cause Justin was equally as successful as I was this year, so I thought he would have got it,â€ Johnson, who flashes a smile as quick as he will a jumper. â€œI never really thought about it. I just wanted to win all-conference again and at least get to states, butâ€¦ I just donâ€™t even know what to say,â€ the 6-foot-point guard said. â€œIâ€™m happy man.â€
Johnson, the one that stands seven inches taller, averaged 20 points like Trishtan and both teams won conference championshipsâ€”Johnson during the regular season for the Ironmen and Trishtan in the Southern Piedmont Conference tournament.
Further clouding the debate of who was more instrumental to their team was the fact both teams reached the sectional finals before bowing out.
â€œIt was wonderful. The whole ride, going through the trials and tribulations and just having fun. It was by far the best season I ever had,â€ the Mustang standout said.
Cherryville had the most players selected to the All-SPC team as 6-foot-2 point guard Cameron Lovelace and 6-foot-2 senior Antonio Griggs joined Johnson.
Lovelace led the area in assists, dishing out nearly eight per contest, while Griggs surpassed 1,000-point
mark and averaged 15 points, six rebounds and five steals a game.
East Lincoln, Lincolnton and Highland Tech each had two selections apiece.
Senior Jamelle Lowery, who averaged 16 points per game, joined his backcourt mate and neighbor, an honor Johnson believes was well-deserved.
â€œJamelle took a lot of attention off me. I knew from the start of the season, he was going to do that. So having Jamelle was a big part of my success.â€
Friday averaged 13 points per game and eight boards for the Wolves, while Gibson was a four-year standout, who proved he was more than just an outside shooter this season.
Trey McCorkle and Justin Byers were the Ramsâ€™ selections.
Also making the All-SPC team were North Lincolnâ€™s Alex Loftin, West Lincolnâ€™s Ben Poole, Bessemer Cityâ€™s Donald Wade and South Iredellâ€™s William McKee.
With college basketball just around the bend, Johnson is going to do something heâ€™s never done beforeâ€”run track.
Mustangsâ€™ head track coach Lonnie Custer will have Johnsonâ€™s services in the long jump, triple jump and some relays.
Johnson is hoping to use track as a way of gaining more agility and building more explosiveness to prepare him for the next level.
by John Mark Brooks