JOHNSTOWN, Ohio -- Coming off a 24-2 season and its first City League title in more than 30 years, it is hard to imagine that South could be better than it was last year. However, that just might be the case as the No. 5 (D2) Bulldogs showed no weaknesses in an 84-49 win over No. 8 (D3) Johnstown.
South never struggled at any point in Wednesday's game, jumping out to a 20-11 lead after a quarter of play. The Bulldogs' speed, athleticism and discipline paid dividends all over the floor, as South forced 14 steals, including six alone from senior guard Naiquan Galloway.
Leading 40-24 at the half, South turned up the pressure in a 25-9 third quarter, all but putting the game away in convincing fashion. With a deeper unit and more offensive firepower than last season's team, South is not to be overlooked in the City League.
With six scorers finishing with at least eight points, South was very balanced offensively. Sophomore forward Marcus Johnson and senior guard Jaedyn Carter each finished with 13 points, while junior guard Tre Watkins added 11 points, all of which in the first half.
Watkins set the tone early, knocking down all three of his attempts from behind-the-arc, helping the Bulldogs stretch the floor and convert in the half court.
Senior forward Jeremiah Green added 10 points and five rebounds, while playing excellent defense in the post. Green's strength, athleticism and toughness will be relied upon all season long, as he could have an impact similar to that of Dez Robinson from last season.
Galloway added four points, but made his impact as a defender and playmaker, adding a game-high five assists and six steals. Galloway is as quick as they come at the guard position in Central Ohio, as there may not be a quicker perimeter defender around.
Rounding out the starting lineup, senior forward Dashn White added 10 points, including a few impressive finishes inside. Sophomore guards Trevell Adams and Taquan Simington were very impressive off the bench, combining for 17 points and 11 rebounds.
For Johnstown, senior guard Carson Carter led all scorers with 13 points. In a game that didn't go well for the Johnnies, a bright spot for the program was freshman forward Jake Lusk, who finished with an efficient 12 points off the bench. Lusk's playmaking ability and strong finishing inside made a difference when Johnstown struggled to score.
After leading the team with 20 points in a win over Worthington Christian last week, junior forward Owen Hazelbaker added six points and seven rebounds for the Johnnies, as South keyed in on stopping the 6-foot-6 post.
With the win, South has nearly a week off before heading on the road to take on Walnut Ridge next Tuesday. Winning its last two games by a combined 61 points over quality opponents in Fairfield Union and Johnstown, South is gearing up for a revenge matchup on the road at No. 2 (D2) Eastmoor on Dec. 19.
For Johnstown, the Johnnies will have to make a quick turnaround as a home matchup vs. No. 7 (D2) Granville awaits on Saturday.