By Pat Harty
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The City High boys basketball team used a blend of youth, experience, size and athleticism to defeat Cedar Rapids Washington on Tuesday.
The youth and athleticism was supplied by acrobatic freshman Keyshawn Christian, while the size and experience was supplied by beefy senior center Chuck Johnson.
Christian scored a game-high 19 points as City broke open a close contest in the second quarter and then cruised to a 69-50 victory at home.
Johnson complemented Christian by scoring 15 points and by clogging the lane on defense with his large, muscular frame.
“I love when he’s in with me because I can go to the rim when I want to and attack or dish it off to him,” Christian said of Johnson, who played in just his third game of the season on Tuesday. “He makes everything easy.”
City improved to 2-9 under first-year coach Derek Roberts, while Washington fell to 2-9.
“Having that big guy in the middle does make a little bit of a difference,” Roberts said of Johnson, who also was a standout defensive lineman in football. “That presence in there where defenses have to respect that, and that can open things up for outside shooters as you saw there.”
The Little Hawks made seven 3-point baskets overall, including six in the first half, which ended with City leading, 35-21.
Washington never mounted much of a threat in the second half as Johnson and Christian controlled things in the paint.
“It feels great,” Johnson said of being back in the lineup and getting the victory. “I started a little rusty; getting back from the ankle injury from football season. But it feels great to be back on the court.”
The 6-foot-4 Johnson dominated the boards despite facing a Washington frontline that had three players 6-7 or taller. Johnson used his quickness and girth to get in position for rebounds.
“Being undersized, I try to work harder than the guy next to you; that’s all it is,” Johnson said. “I use my body and wide frame and long arms, just my God-given talent.”
Speaking of God-given talent, Christian’s athleticism caused fits for Washington throughout Tuesday’s game. The 6-2 forward repeatedly got to the rim in transition and drew numerous fouls.
Christian made 8-of-13 free throw attempts and was nearly perfect from the field, making 5-of-6 field goal attempts, including one 3-pointer.
“He’s a monster athlete,” Johnson said of Christian. “I just can’t wait to see him as a senior.”
Tuesday’s game had 49 fouls and 51 free throws. One player fouled out and eight players had at least four fouls.
City used 12 players, with nine scoring at least one point.
Guards Kolbie Clayton and Antonio Turner both played unselfishly and that helped City’s offense run more smoothly.
“I’m just real proud of our team with how hard they played,” Roberts said. “We really came together as a team for the first time, I think.”
Roberts put his around Christian when he removed him from the game in the fourth quarter.
“When you’re a freshman there are some growing pains that you go through and we’ve gone through those with him,” Roberts said. “But I told him when he came out of the game, I said I’m proud of you not only as a person, but as a player with how you progressed in this game.
“He had a great winter break maturing because if you think about it, a year ago that kid was playing eighth-grade basketball. It’s a big difference playing in a 4A basketball game. So he’s improving by leaps and bounds and he just has to go back to work.”
CR Washington 10 11 11 18 – 50
City High 12 23 20 14 – 69
Cedar Rapids Washington (50) – Collin Westmoreland 3-10 1-2 8, Donovan Beard 3-10 3-3 9. Drew Christensen 5-8 3-4 13, Max Campbell 0-5 0-0 0, Mick McCurry 4-12 3-4 13, Luke Jonasson 0-1 2-2 2, Ross Snitker 0-2 0-0 0, Nolan Potter 1-2 3-7 5, Joe McKinstry 0-2 0-0 0, Malik Vance 0-0 0-0 0, Ian Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Keenan Collins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-52 15-22 50.
City High (69) – Chuck Johnson 6-15 3-8 15, Keyshawn Christian 5-8 8-13 19, Kolbie Barnes 2-4 0-0 4, Ry Threlkeld-Weigand 3-9 1-2 10, Antonio Turner 3-8 1-2 7, Jeremy Kambomba 1-1 0-0 2, Carter Westlake 1-1 0-0 3, Caleb Sass 0-1 0-0 0, Louis Craig 1-2 1-2 3, Will McIntire 2-4 0-2 6, Cole Cotton 0-0 0-0 0, J.P. Rethwisch 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-50 13-29 69.
3-point goals – Washington 3 (McCurry 2, Westmoreland); City 7 (Threlkeld-Weigand 3, McIntire 2, Christian, Westlake). Fouls – Washington 26, City 23. Fouled out – McCurry.