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Just one goal remaining for Archers’ senior

Greg Jones
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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette

Senior DeJoyah Johnson is the second-leading scorer for South Side, which plays for a state title Saturday in Terre Haute.

State finals
Saturday

Indiana State University, Terre Haute

Class A: Canterbury (24-3) vs. Vincennes Rivet (22-4), 10:30 a.m.

Class 2A: Eastern (Greentown) (22-3) vs. Evansville Mater Dei (27-2), 12:45 p.m.

Class 3A: Hamilton Heights (23-2) vs. Mount Vernon (Fortville) (22-4), 6 p.m.

Class 4A: South Side (24-3) vs. Bedford North Lawrence (27-0), 8:15 p.m.

FORT WAYNE – South Side senior DeJoyah Johnson wanted to accomplish a lot for herself and the program this season.

She took care of the individual part by securing a place to continue playing basketball at Division II Urbana (Ohio). Now, Johnson and the Archers are a win away from securing a team goal.

“I knew this was what I wanted to do, and it was my dream to play college ball,” Johnson said. “Coming to South Side, I knew that this is going to be a great school for me to get better and have an opportunity to play at the college level.

“I have really grown as a player. We are a good team and playing against them every day in practice helps me get better and playing AAU basketball during the summer has helped as well. Over the four years, it has all came together.”

Johnson and South Side (24-3) play Bedford North Lawrence (27-0) on Saturday in the Class 4A state title game at Indiana State University.

“It means a lot, considering it is my senior year and knowing I can do it with these group of girls,” Johnson said of the school’s first trip to the girls state finals. “From the first practice, coach (Juanita Goodwell) put in our heads that we can be state-bound, and if we work hard and play as a team we could get there.

“She believed in us, and that helped us believe in ourselves.”

Johnson has been the catalyst for the Archers’ pressure defense and leads the team in steals with 2.7.

“Defensively she is a trigger,” Goodwell said. “It is that she stays informed and knows what is going on with expectations. If she sees someone else not giving the same effort that she is giving, she will make sure they know.”

Johnson puts defense at the top of her priority list.

“I try to be the best defender I can be,” she said. “I focused a lot on defense, so that is what I think is my ticket (to college). I am not a box score lover or anything like that.

“I just really want to win the game and stop the opposite team from scoring. Defense wins games, and it is way more important than the offensive side. Once I know I can stop a player or get a 10-second call or cause a turnover, I let my offense come to me.”

The 5-foot-8 Johnson is second on the team in scoring (10 points per game) and assists (2.6) and fourth in rebounding (3.7).

“She’s been a solid rock for us for all four years, but especially her senior year,” Goodwell said. “Her mental capacity to be able to be a leader and not just say the words but also lead by example has been an asset to us overall.”

Leadership may be Johnson’s most important attribute, according to junior Brittni Clopton.

“She is a great leader, especially on the defensive end,” Clopton said. “Whenever we are mentally out of it, she brings us in.

“She is that type of leader, that if we are down in a slump she can bring our heads back up.”

gjones@jg.net

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