A unique mix of senior leadership and a talented crop of underclassmen have the St. Joseph Catholic School boys basketball team believing it can accomplish extraordinary things this season.The Fighting Irish are led by seniors Dillon Johnson and Trey Benson, who, after leading St. Joe to its third straight football state championship in the fall, are hoping to duplicate that same success next month when the MAIS basketball playoffs begin.
Johnson is a talented guard who has overwhelmed most of his opposition these last few seasons with both his athletic ability and his intellect. Benson, meanwhile, along with junior big man Mekhi Norris, have helped the Fighting Irish control the paint in recent games. After commanding victories over Porter’s Chapel and Benton Academy last week, St. Joe’s record now stands at 7-4.
While the seniors have led the way for St. Joseph, the Fighting Irish have also received a lot of help from some unlikely freshmen. Ninth grader Jerrian King, for example, played two of his best games of his career this past week, scoring 23 points against Benton and backing it up with a 21-point performance over Porter’s Chapel.
“Jerrian is lightning quick, and his offense stems from his defense,” St. Joseph head coach James Hunter said. “I knew going into the season that he was going to be a pretty good player for us, but I am surprised about how well he has done so quickly.”
Along with King, freshman Donnie Smith and C.J. Moore have also stepped up and contributed a lot for Coach Hunter’s squad.
With the help of the guidance of their senior leaders, these young freshman have what it takes to be even greater players in future seasons.
“We have two senior leaders who have been through it all, and they are both leading the way for us. They are both outstanding leaders and great examples,” Coach Hunter said.
For now, however, these youngsters hope to combine forces with their upperclassmen to help the Irish make a deep run the postseason. Last season, the Irish advanced all the way to the semifinals of the MAIS AA State Championship Tournament.
Now, with perhaps an even more of a complete team, this year’s Fighting Irish may be capable of taking home the title.