COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In a fantastic game to open the night, Johnstown won their first district title since 2016 as the Johnnies took down undefeated North Union in a thriller, surviving a second half surge from the Wildcats to hang on 46-43.
Despite North Union jumping out to a quick 8-4 lead following a three from sophomore Zach Vernon, Johnstown junior Gavin Foe went to work for the rest of the first, dominating the remainder of the frame to even it up at 11 after one.
Foe scored on the offensive glass, hit a three and threw down a big slam in transition. He was called for a very questionable technical after the slam with 4.5 seconds left in the quarter, as the Johnnies very well could have taken the lead into the second.
This didn't matter however, as Johnstown put together a 14-5 run in the middle of the second quarter behind some really hot three point shooting to jump out to a sizable lead.
Ending the half with a three from Caleb Schneider, a three from Matt Sayer and an and-one from Sayer, the Johnnies headed into the second half ahead 31-22 and with all of the momentum.
They executed fantastically in the first half, playing a very physical game and controlling the glass on both ends. They capitalized on every good look they got and some fantastic play from Foe pushed them out to this lead.
North Union began the third playing some fantastic defense, as Johnstown didn't score until the 3:52 mark of the frame but the Wildcats did not capitalize on this much, still trailing 33-25 at this point.
North Union senior guard Connor Terrill then turned it on on the offensive end for the Wildcats, coming up with a few big scores including a mid-range just before the buzzer to cut the deficit to three and set up a huge fourth quarter.
With what seemed to be the entire town of Richwood in attendance, North Union's crowd got behind them in the fourth as Vernon converted an and-one and Trevyn Feasel then finished off a tough layup to give them a 38-37 lead and a ton of momentum with 6:03 to go.
Despite North Union getting their lead to 40-38 following a tough left-handed finish from Vernon, Johnstown didn't waver, as a huge three from Derek Foe put them ahead 43-40 with 2:14 to go and forced a North Union timeout.
After another tough score from Vernon, the Wildcats had a chance to tie it or take the lead after Feasel was fouled following a steal. He missed both shots, however, and Johnstown capitalized on this when Gavin Foe hit two at the line to push the lead to 45-42 with 32.4 to go.
After Harley Day hit one of two at the line for North Union to trim it to 45-43, Lusk hit just one of two at the line for Johnstown and North Union had a chance to tie it while down 46-43 with 12 seconds to go.
Terrill had a contested look while coming off a screen but failed to knock it down, as the Johnnies snatched down the rebound and North Union didn't have enough time to foul.
Winning their first district title since 2016, Johnstown made a great run in order to get there by taking down Centerburg, Bishop Ready and North Union in a tough Columbus 1 bracket.
Gavin Foe led them with 15 points in an impressive showing tonight, as he has enjoyed a big time season and is a prospect to keep an eye on for the Johnnies.
For North Union, the Wildcats dream season ends at 24-1 in a heartbreaker. Vernon was great for them tonight, going for 19 points in a big time showing.
They will be a squad to look out for next year in the CBC, as they return a lot of production and will be hungry to get over the hump.
Johnstown advances to the Bowling Green regional to take on Central Catholic next Wednesday, March 11th at 6:15 p.m.
Garrett Tipton - Bellarmine