PARMA HTS. — Northeast Ohio boys basketball fans should remember the name Lawrynce Johnson because they’ll be hearing a lot of it over the next three seasons.
The sophomore point guard erupted for a career-high 37 points, six rebounds and four assists Tuesday in leading Holy Name to a 63-54 non-league victory over Cloverleaf.
Johnson made 14-of-27 field goal attempts, including 4-of-10 from beyond the arc, and 5-of-9 free throws in an electrifying 31-minute performance that earned him a standing ovation from the Green Wave’s student section when he exited with 25 seconds to play.
“We tried a lot of things defensively, but he just tore us up tonight,” Colts coach Marty Ryan said. “He’s quick, he can shoot and he passes the ball well when you put pressure on him. Give him credit. He played a tremendous game and was the difference.”
Were it not for Johnson’s unstoppable evening, Cloverleaf (1-1) would have spoiled Holy Name’s season opener.
Colts sophomore point guard Cliff Collyer shredded the opposition for 20 points and five rebounds, while senior power forward Robby Buckwald was a beast down low with 18 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
In the third quarter, Buckwald gave Cloverleaf its first lead since the first period at 28-27 when he scored on a putback, while Collyer gave the guests their final advantage at 31-29 with a pair of free throws midway through the frame.
“We watched Cloverleaf play Friday against Wooster, so we knew Buckwald and Collyer were very athletic, talented kids that we had to account for,” Green Wave coach Jeff Huber said. “Our goal was to make them score over the top of us, which I thought worked pretty well in half-court sets all night.”
While Collyer and Buckwald made seven hoops apiece, the rest of the Colts combined for five on 26 shots, making Huber’s strategy a winner.
Johnson, meanwhile, scored from all over the court and swung momentum Holy Name’s way in the final three minutes of the third. The 6-footer buried a 3-pointer off an inbounds play to put the Green Wave up for good at 35-32, then scored two baskets in the final 25 seconds of the period to extend the advantage to 44-36.
Cloverleaf junior shooting guard Ryan O’Callaghan scored on a three-point play early in the fourth to cut Holy Name’s lead to 44-40, but Johnson and senior center Brian Spencer (12 points, game-high 13 rebounds) put the win on ice by combining for 18 of the Green Wave’s final 19 points.
“We’re going to go as far as Lawrynce takes us this season — and he was sensational tonight,” Huber said. “He was our sixth man last year and averaged 10 points a game, but really developed into an elite talent over the summer.”
Shooting guard Adam Podolak chipped in five points, five rebounds and two assists for the Colts, who also got five boards and two helpers from center Brandt Buckholz and four points and four rebounds from small forward Connor Ploucha.
“I think the guys learned tonight that we’ve got to really make it a total team effort to be successful,” Ryan said. “We’ve also got to protect the ball better because 18 turnovers are too many, but I also saw a lot of good things at times. We’re going to keep working hard and getting better.”
Johnson also had nine turnovers, was issued a warning by the officials for his behavior and had to be separated from Podolak twice in the second half while trash-talking.
• Holy Name’s junior varsity scored a 60-47 victory. Troy Kapeluck led the Colts with 11 points, while fellow sophomore Braedon Hansen added nine.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.