YAZOO CITY — At the exact right time the St. Joseph Catholic School boys basketball team seems to have figured out how to play with such a prolific scorer in junior standout Dillon Johnson.
Johnson had another out-of-this-world performance Saturday night as he scored 43 points in the Fighting Irish’s 61-63 victory over Manchester Academy in the championship game of the District 2-AA tournament.
St. Joe coach James Hunter and his staff have been building for this moment all season. Earlier this year, Johnson broke a school record by scoring 53 points in one game. The lone caveat in Johnson’s record breaker was that the Fighting Irish did not win the game.
But, this time, with a total team effort behind the Irish, Johnson’s points helped his team to victory. The Irish have now won three straight district championships.
St. Joe trailed Manchester by five points with one minute left in the game, but the Fighting Irish never lost their cool. They played great defense and also made a number of clutch free throws to come back to win.
“There is something about this team that allows us to gut out close victories,” Hunter said. “I am getting a little tired of winning close games, but this has been a really great group of kids to coach.”
The victory was even sweeter for Hunter since he lost seven seniors on his team last season. Hunter said he was proud about how his young team came together throughout the season and kept getting better.
And, there is still more work to do.
The Fighting Irish can make it to the state tournament with a victory Tuesday against Central Holmes in the first round of the MAIS North AA tournament at Marshall Academy. Tipoff is set for 4:15 p.m.
“It sets up really well for us, but Central Holmes is a good team with a couple really talented players,” said Hunter.