A Dom-inating year

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The Southeast Missourian Christmas tournament scoring record, 2,000 career points and a state title.

That is the way Bell City senior Dominitrix Johnson hopes his season accomplishments will read as the Cubs prepare for the start of the state playoffs. Bell City (25-4) will face Scott County Central (13-13) at 8:15 tonight at Sikeston in the sectional round.

While Johnson's individual achievements this season have been well documented, the two-time all-state guard would trade them all for a shot at another state title.

"I'm just thinking about winning state," Johnson said. "I've waited a whole year to get back to this point."

That wait started early for Johnson last season, after defending state champion Bell City was upset by Clarkton in the sectional round. Johnson was held to nine points while playing through leg cramps in the fourth quarter. Johnson's nine points against Clarkton was the only time the past two seasons he has been held below double digits scoring.

"I think it made us better this year," Bell City coach David Heeb said of the Clarkton loss.

A trio trimmed to oneFor Johnson, this season has been a chance for him to step out of the shadows of former teammates Eric Henry and C.J. Hadley and put the team on his shoulders. And even though opposing teams have known from the start of the season that Johnson is the Cubs' main option, he has still managed to average 29.3 points per game.

"The last two years he's had a lot of older kids who've been there," Heeb said. "This year the most remarkable thing about what he's doing is we don't have another kid who averages double figures."

What has separated Johnson from many of the other top scorers around the area is his ability to get his teammates involved. Johnson averages nearly six assists a game, and is more than willing to let his teammates take their shots.

"He's gotten better and better at that as the year's gone on," Heeb said. "They're getting better. He's allowed them to get better."

Old schoolA three-year starter, Johnson has made his presence felt at Bell City since transferring from Scott County Central after his freshman year. He's treated his former school no different than any other.

In the Cubs' last meeting with Scott County, Johnson went for 29 points, eight assists and 11 rebounds. The Cubs also got double figure scoring from Jeff Liggins and Randy Conn, who scored 11 points apiece. That depth around Johnson has been a key to Bell City's success this season.

"We can go 10 deep and we lost Blaine Stewart," Heeb said. "That's definitely a big factor. At the beginning of the year I thought we could go six or seven deep."

What should help the Cubs avoid another early playoff exit is the groups strong chemistry. The Cubs start five seniors, with most of the group coming up together over the past couple of years.

"I think everyone on the team gets along better," Johnson said. "We've got five senior on the team and we all pretty much hand out every night."

With a state championship in volleyball already sitting in the Bell City trophy case, the basketball team will try to make it two state titles for the Cubs.

"We've waited a year for this," Heeb said. "Scott County is capable of beating us, but I think the kids are really looking forward to the opportunity to get back to the final four and bring home a state championship."

jjoffray@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 171

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