Johnson scores 17 in All-Star loss

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 16, 2004

Warren Central’s Cookie Johnson goes up for the shot against Coldwater’s Lomoeshia McAdory during the second half of the Mississippi Girls All-Star game at Mississippi College in Clinton.(Brian Loden The Vicksburg Post)

[7/16/04]CLINTON A few months off can add a little rust to a basketball player’s game, and it showed on Thursday night.

With sloppy fundamentals from a long layoff, the South squad fell to the North 95-84 in the Mississippi North-South All-Star game at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum.

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Myeshia Johnson of Ridgeland paved the way for the North, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds and scoring a team-high 18 points.

Despite 27 points from Kristi Martin of Bay Springs and another 17 from Cookie Johnson of Warren Central, the South struggled to keep pace because of free throws and rebounds.

The North all-stars won the battle of the boards by a whopping 52-29 margin, giving them numerous second-chance opportunities. They also hit 20 of 29 free throws (.689), compared to the South’s 22-for-42 (.523) mark from the line.

“It was just a matter of them being bigger and being able to control the paint and boards,” said South coach Walter Wilson of Choctaw Central, whose team was two players short with Ashley Boehnel of Hancock and LaToya Branch of Gulfport as no-shows all week.

Martin scored 24 of her game-high 27 in the second half. Johnson also scored 11 of her 17 after halftime and had a team-high seven rebounds.

“It was a real good experience,” Johnson said. “I was playing against better people, good competition, people that run the ball better. It makes me better to play against stronger and bigger players.”

Johnson admitted she was a little gun-shy in the first half.

“I was kind of nervous with everybody hollering and stuff,” she said. “I just had to get in my own zone and try to help the team out.”

Dominic Cranford of Callaway put on a show to begin the game, scoring 10 of the North’s first 14 points.

But both teams played evenly through much of the first half, with the North pulling away in the last three minutes for a 44-35 halftime lead.

The North increased its lead to 12 early in the second before the South responded.

Behind 10 points in a two-minute stretch from Martin, the South trimmed the lead to 56-51 with 13:17 left to play.

The South used a full-court press to force turnovers in the second half, but was unable to capitalize.

“We worked on it, we felt like we had to,” Wilson said of the press. “It was effective up to a point, but we just couldn’t score off of it. We just couldn’t get any buckets.”

The South cut the advantage to three twice after that, but the North began to bounce back.

The North’s surge was capped off by a 3-pointer from Shalonda Rogers of West Lowndes with just over two minutes left, giving the North an 88-78 lead.

“They controlled the tempo, and for us to win, we would have had to control it and get easy buckets on layups,” Wilson said. “We thought that would be our chance of winning, if we could outrun them, and we weren’t able to do that.”