Johnson coming on strong — again


As usual, the favorites to contend for the St. Paul City boys’ basketball title are defending champion Johnson and rival St. Paul Central. (By press time, the teams had already met in the first of two contests.) Challenging them are Como Park and Highland Park; also competing are Harding, Humboldt and Washington with some outstanding players in their own right.

Since 2004, Johnson, who prior to that had won their only City crown in 1983 (behind the outstanding play of WAYNE ELLIS, MONTE DEBERRY, SCOTT ACKERSON, CHRIS GARRETT, DARRIN CHAPMON, TONY ADKINS and COY NELSON), has owned the conference. They won 10 titles in a row and participated in eight state tournament appearances (’04, ’06, ’07, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12 and ’13).

They won it all in 2010 with a 32-0 record.

Ranked No. 1 in Class 3A at press time, Johnson is led by a balanced attack with senior forward PIERRE CONWELL averaging 16.4 points per game, junior point guard JALEN MOBLEY chipping in 15.5, and LOUIS WILLIAMS adding 10.2.

Central, who has a couple of City Conference crowns of their own (the Minutemen shared with Johnson in 2005 and 2008), are led by senior RAYEON WILLIAMS (21.2) and sophomore guard SAM GUBBRUD   (12.6).

Highland Park, who shared the title with Johnson in 2004, is led by football sensation ISAIAH BROWER (12.5) and KWASHON COLLINS-WESTLUND (10.0). AMAP GARUBANDA (13.6), DARROEL PITTMAN (13.6), and PETER SCHRADER (11.0) are paving the way for Como Park.

DEMOND DAWSON’S 20.4 points per game average leads Humboldt. Washington’s leading scorers are ROBBY SANDERS (17.8) and DA’VONTE ADAMS (13.3). MAILK SAMUELS (8.2) is Harding’s leading scorer.

During the span of their dominance, Johnson has played in eight Twin City games, the annual intercity matchup between the conference champions of
. They lost to North in 2004 and 2006 while also coming up short against Washburn in 2009, 2011 and 2012. In 2007 they avenged an early season loss to defeat Henry, beating North in 2010 and Southwest last season.

Ironically, Southwest defeated the Governors during their first Twin-City appearance in 1983.


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