Tompkins High School, Falcons, Texas girls high school basketball, Loghan Johnson, Katy ISD

Senior leadership, Johnson ignite Tompkins girls to 16-3 start

By DENNIS SILVA II, Times Sports Editor
Posted 12/13/19

Through the first 19 games of its season, Tompkins’ girls basketball team has won 16. Perhaps none, however, have been as telling as the Falcons’ District 19-6A opener on Friday, Dec. 13, a thorough 51-31 win over perennial district power Seven Lakes at home.

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Tompkins High School, Falcons, Texas girls high school basketball, Loghan Johnson, Katy ISD

Senior leadership, Johnson ignite Tompkins girls to 16-3 start

Posted

Through the first 19 games of its season, Tompkins’ girls basketball team has won 16. Perhaps none, however, have been as telling as the Falcons’ District 19-6A opener on Friday, Dec. 13, a thorough 51-31 win over perennial district power Seven Lakes at home.

The Falcons are already three wins shy of tying last season’s 19-win total in a campaign that has been a culmination of senior leadership and experience, as well as the talent and poise of freshman Loghan Johnson.

Seniors like Mia Hill and Nalani Burton were varsity players as freshmen on the 2016-17 team that won nine games. They have been the bedrock for a program that has made strides ever since, making the playoffs in 2017-18, falling a game short of the postseason last season and now potential district title contenders.

“They hold each other accountable. They play for each other,” said coach Tamatha Ray, who won her 100th career game earlier this season. “They learned from last year and this has been a process for these seniors. They’ve taken responsibility and they listen to coaching and they learn.”

The win over Seven Lakes to open district play was a landmark win for Ray, who has coached the program since its inception in 2013-14. The Falcons had never beaten the Spartans.

In their initial meeting this season, though, Tompkins jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back. Hill and junior point guard Crystal Smith led the way in the first half, each scoring six points, before Johnson shut the door on Seven Lakes in the second.

The Spartans climbed within 25-24 early in the third quarter, but the Falcons outscored them 26-7 the rest of the way. Johnson, a versatile wing, had 19 of those points.

A matchup headache for opponents, Johnson drove to the basket with ease and also knocked in a 3-pointer. She initiated fast breaks, had a few steals, and showed a power and aggressiveness offensively that was beyond her years.

“I didn’t do so well in the first half and they were playing me softer (in the second half), so I used that as an opportunity to jump on them and get the easy buckets when I could,” said Johnson, who finished with a game-high 28 points to go with four rebounds and three steals. “I’m a bigger player who can handle the ball, so I have a lot of advantages. I just hustled.”

Johnson scored eight points in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth.

“She’s amazing,” Smith said. “I couldn’t ask for a better teammate. On and off the court, she gets it done.”

Ray praised Johnson for her work ethic and coachability, two traits that define this year’s Falcons.

“She can dribble, she can pass, she can shoot. She can post up,” Ray said. “How do you guard her? But she also wants to learn and she listens, and she couldn’t do it without her teammates. She understands that.”

Johnson said pace of the game is the biggest adjustment as she continues to acclimate herself to the varsity basketball. She also said more is expected of her. Often whenever Seven Lakes threatened, the ball found Johnson on offense and she, more often than not, made a play to keep the Spartans at bay.

“I have to learn how to play with older teammates who are more mature than me,” Johnson said. “I think I’m doing well adjusting to the environment, and socially as well. I’m still on my way up.

“I just want to keep learning and do everything I can to become a better teammate. This team encourages me and pushes me and I want to do a lot for them, be there for them and learn from them.”

Smith said the win over Seven Lakes was “huge.” Smith has matured from precocious sophomore to team leader. She finished the Seven Lakes game with nine points, three steals and four assists, but it’s her intangibles, like being a calming presence on the floor as a ballhandler and defender, that makes a difference.

“I wanted to learn how to be a better teammate,” she said of her goals for this season. “It was important we learned how to come together as one. Learn from our mistakes. I think that’s what we’ve done this year. We’ve gelled from that, learned from that and it’s making us what we are now. We motivate each other. We pick each other up.

“We’re holding each other accountable and just taking games one play at a time.”

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