The Greater Johnstown boys team doesn’t always win pretty, but the Trojans have figured out how to get the most out of the players that are out on the court.
Senior Phillip Madison, who is approaching the 1,000-point scoring mark, is the one returning starter for this year’s Johnstown squad and his court savvy works well in helping to keep his team on the same page.
The Barfield twins, seniors Damean and Daniel, have added their quickness to Madison’s and provide numerous intangibles, especially on the defensive end for the Trojans.
Senior Roshon Fields has shown vast improvement this season and at 6-foot-6, provides an inside force for Johnstown. The other starter for the Trojans is senior Dalvin Williams, who is a defensive specialist.
Freshman Jeremy Updyke came off the bench on Friday at Richland and provided a spark for Johnstown in a 58-57 victory.
“He’s a really tough freshman,” Madison said. “He always comes ready to play. He plays real mature for a freshman. Jeremy was able to come off the bench and give us a nice spurt.”
Updyke, who also played most of the junior varsity game, chipped in 11 points for the Trojans against Richland in the varsity contest, all in the fourth quarter. Updyke was also 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
“I just try to be calm and try to think about all the times at practice when you do all those foul shots and bend your knees and hope it goes in,” Updyke said.
Being thrown into the upperclassman mix, Updyke continues to learn.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also a lot of fun,” Updyke said. “The seniors are teaching me a lot of skills and stuff that I never saw whenever I was in junior high.”
Johnstown coach Neil Cobaugh says that the freshman has done everything that the coaches have asked of him, including being the relay man to get the ball to Fields on Friday and help the Trojans come away with the win.
“I can’t say enough about Jeremy Updyke,” Cobaugh said. “He’s such a smart kid. He knows where everyone is going to be and he sees things. He plays like a fourth-year senior not a first-year freshman. I really can’t give him enough credit. If I had a game ball to give out, it would have gone to Jeremy. He does a tremendous job both offensively and defensively.”
Johnstown has four games remaining and is currently tied with Bishop McCort atop the Laurel Highlands Section 2 standings.
If both the Crushers and Trojans continue to win, the Feb. 13 matchup between the two at Doc Stofko gymnasium will decide who will play the Section 1 winner for the conference crown on Feb. 16.
Grand totals: It was a busy week for scorers with six more players going over the top to bring to 14 the number of 1,000-point scorers in the area.
Juniors Olivia McCabe and Emily Chobany of Portage and seniors Chad Eisenhuth of Ferndale, Adam Wiley of Chestnut Ridge, Maddy Grimm of Ligonier Valley and Carter Slade of Shanksville-Stonycreek all achieved the milestone this week.
Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.