By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – At 6-foot-4 and better than 250 pounds Chuck Johnson is a big guy.
Johnson isn’t quite as a big as he used to be and that has proved to be a good thing for the City High basketball team.
“I’ve lost a couple pounds,” Johnson chuckled. “I’ve lost some weight, I’m just in better shape.”
The slimmed down Johnson has been putting up some beefed up stat lines since his return to the City High lineup in January.
Johnson has scored in double figures in six of his last eight games and is averaging 13.1 points and 8.4 rebounds during that stretch to lead City High in both categories.
“He has been really working on his body, he’s lost 10 or 15 pounds and really leaned out,” First-year City High coach Derek Roberts said. “His body is looking really good and that’s makes him tougher to defend.”
It was a tough start to the season for Johnson who was ineligible for the first eight games and was limited in what he could do at practice by an ankle injury suffered during football season.
The toughest part for Johnson was watching from the bench as City High went 1-7 before the holiday break.
“It was so frustrating to watch knowing that I could make a big influence on the team,” Johnson said. “I’m just glad to be back and help the team out.”
Only slightly less difficult than watching his team struggle out of the gate was getting back into basketball playing shape.
Johnson spent much of the month of December running and riding the exercise bike before he would even touch a ball at practice.
“I wanted to have a good season and I knew if I was going to have a good season I was going to have to change something and that was getting into shape,” Johnson said. “I had to get into better basketball shape to help the team.”
Johnson estimated he has shed between 15 and 20 pounds from the start of the season and as his weight continues to drop his production continues to climb.
Johnson has a pair of double-doubles in 10 games and leads City High with 12.2 points and nine rebounds per game this season.
He has scored in double figures in three straight including an 18-point outing against Waterloo West and a 15-point, 13-rebound effort against Cedar Rapids Prairie.
“He’s a force,” Roberts said. “Just playing him in practice every once in a while he’s a big boy to handle. You can tell anybody to try to box him out but he just has so much lower body strength.”
Rather than dwell on the start of the season and the games he missed Johnson enjoying every moment of his final season on the basketball court.
Johnson plans to play football next year at Ellsworth Community College making this season his final go-around on the hardwood.
“I’m trying to make the most of my senior year,” Johnson said. “I just want to have fun and make the year for everyone else.”
Roberts has been impressed with what Johnson has done on the court and in the locker room on a team that routinely starts three underclassmen and is down to two healthy seniors with Jared Taylor out with a shoulder injury.
“He always has a great attitude and he does a great job mentoring some of our younger guys,” Roberts said. “With Jared out with an injury we are down to two seniors that play but all three of those guys are great leaders and mentors for our young guys.”
Ratings Update: West High was once again atop the most recent Class 4A poll released on Monday by the Associated Press.
The top ranked teams in each class went unchanged as Waverly-Shell Rock remained number one in 3A, Western Christian held the top spot in 2A and North Linn stayed No. 1 in 1A.
Top performances: Solon senior Jacob Coons had 18 points and three rebounds in a 68-56 loss to Mount Vernon.
City High freshman Keshawn Christian had 22 points and four rebounds in a 72-67 win over Dubuque Wahlert.
West High senior Connor McCaffery had 22 points and seven assists in a 70-63 win over Linn-Mar.
West Branch sophomore Beau Cornwell had 24 points, six rebounds and six steals in a 68-56 win over Durant.
Regina freshman Masen Miller had 18 points and three assists in a 71-41 win over Durant.