The regular season concluded for the Bulldogs on Thursday as Garfield Heights pulled away from Cleveland Heights 63-57 in front of a packed house. Before the game, seniors gathered with their families to grace the home court for the final time.
Noticeably, Brison Waller, the team’s lone senior starter wasn’t in uniform. Waller sustained a knee injury in practice and was not in the lineup for his final home game.
In his absence, Meechie and Sonny Johnson were ready for center stage. Coming into the game, Sonny recorded his best game of the season with 23 points, 18 of which came in the first half including six 3-pointers.
With more time playing as the primary ball-handler, Sonny has flourished by creating off the dribble. Playing with his cousin Meechie, Sonny has found his role as a freshman next to another high-level guard. The transition has not always been pretty, but the team is growing together.
Photo: Jalen Davis, Wesview
Cleveland Heights has not had the on-court success that was anticipated with the arrival of 6-foot-10 forward Jaelyn Withers. Withers is one of the top players in the area. He is committed to Louisville and transferred to Cleveland Heights after attending North Mecklenburg High School in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.
Without 6-foot-9 Brison Waller in the lineup, the Bulldogs were limited in the paint. From the opening tip, Meechie Johnson was aggressive looking to score as his team would need the lift offensively. In the first period, Johnson scored 10 points including a sequence of crossovers and spin moves before finishing through contact at the rim, igniting the spirited crowd.
Without the protection at the rim, Cleveland Heights guard Nigel Martin had his way en route to a game-high 29 points.
Meechie Johnson got back on track as he worked his way out of a scoring slump to pace to Bulldogs with his 26 points. Sonny Johnson added 9 points, all of which were 3-pointers along with 6 assists.
All season, Garfield Heights has played its best basketball when the lights are brightest. The Bulldogs will look to cause disruption in the postseason. After a first round bye, Garfield Heights is back in action on Feb. 3rd to play the winner of Hudson versus Macedonia Nordonia.
Darnell Jones is a contributor for Mars Reel based in Northeast Ohio