Dunbar’s Johnson puts troubled past behind him, Wolverine senior shining


Dunbar’s Geron Johnson has rebounded from a polluted past to become one of Ohio’s top players. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)

Dayton Dunbar’s 6-foot-3 senior Geron Johnson is leading by example, and to all his critics, sorry – he is a changed young man.

Dayton Dunbar’s 6-foot-3 senior Geron Johnson is leading by example, and to all his critics, sorry – he is a changed young man.

Has he struggled? Of course he has.

Has he made mistakes? Absolutely!

Have we all made mistakes? Only know one that hasn’t.

The humble, polite, and quiet bundle of ability, Johnson knew
it was time to change his life and become the leader of this team.

“I had some trouble, but that is all behind me,” Johnson said.
“It is my senior year and it was time to step up and be an all-around
leader not just a good basketball player. The team needs me, and I was
not able to play in the tournament last year.”

Johnson missed last year’s sectional loss to Wilmington, but
Saturday night the high major D-I recruit was not absent in the least
in the Wolverines 53-40 triumph.

In a rematch of last year’s sectional clash, Dunbar and
Wilmington met on the Hurricane’s home floor in front of jam-packed
house. Johnson was nothing short of tremendous.

“I knew it was time to step up my game and just play
basketball,” Johnson said. “I was not playing up to my potential in the
first four games, so it was time for me to step it up.”

There was no better time to start than against a very good Wilmington team.

“Like I said, I have not been stepping up,” Johnson said. “It
was a good night to have a breakout game. They (Wilmington) are a very
good basketball team, and I knew my team needed me to come out and play
to my capabilities.”

The game, however, did not get off to the greatest of starts
for the Wolverines who quickly fell behind 8-0 before head coach Peter
Pullen called a timeout.  Perhaps the Dayton-based squad came out a
little flat after finding out that Wilmington shooting guard Jordan
Berlin would be unable to play. The 6-foot-3 Ashland signee reinjured
his foot in Friday night’s 87-50 win over Amelia.

At any rate, the Wolverines would battle back despite some hot
shooting from the Hurricane. Wilmington led 17-14 at the end of one.

The second quarter was filled with explosions.

Miami (OH) signee Quentin Rollins scored 12 points in the quarter and 18 in the first half to lead the Hurricane.

“(Quentin) Rollins is a good player,” Johnson relayed. “I did
not know he was that good, because I did not get to play against them
last year. You have to tip your hat to him.”

While Rollins was doing his thing, Johnson and teammate Deon Stewart were doing their part to keep the issue close.

Johnson served up two crowd-pleasing dunks with the first
earning him a questionable technical foul. Johnson caught a lob pass
one-handed and thunderously rocked the rim over a Hurricane defender.
The Wolverine catalyst was warranted a “T” for being excited about the
incredible play. Nevertheless, Johnson calmly walked off the floor
after substitution with zero argument.

Johnson finished the quarter with nine points, while the 6-foot-3 Stewart added seven markers.

After 16 minutes of play, the Wolverines cut the Wilmington lead to 32-30.

As exciting as the first half was, the second half would bring about a totally different style of play.

The Wolverines jumped into a swarming 1-3-1 trapping zone that
totally took Wilmington out of its game. Neither team lit up the
scoreboard in the third, but Dunbar did manage to grab an 8-3 advantage
taking a 38-35 lead.

The absence of Berlin was clearly felt with the Hurricane
shooting 3-of-23 from the field in the second half scoring just eight
points. As for Rollins, it was a tale of two halves. The senior leader
was unable to get many looks and was blanked in the final 16 minutes.

Johnson, Stewart, senior Ryan Bass and Roger “RJ” Williamson
all came up big in the fourth period. The game was nip-and-tuck for
most of the fourth, but the above four helped close out a gutsy and
tough Wilmington outfit.

Johnson finished with 18 points and six steals. The amazing
thing about this senior is the way he covers ground with the greatest
of ease getting his hands on plenty of Wilmington passes. The game, at
times, appears too easy for Johnson.

Johnson is at his best off the dribble creating for others and
getting to the basket. It seems Johnson could get to the basket almost
anytime he wants. He showed his ability to pass off the dribble using
both hands and even knocked down a deep triple.

Coach Pullen told us early in the year, Johnson could
do-it-all, and he wasn’t too far off. He rebounds, plays great
on-the-ball and off-the-ball defense, and has the ability to lead.

Several times, when play started to get physical, Johnson
pointed to his head indicating to teammates to use their heads. It was
just another example of how far this young man has come over the course
of a year.

Speaking of his teammates, Stewart finished with 13 points and
10 rebounds, while Bass struggling through foul trouble managed to
contribute eight markers and Williamson added eight big points. Leading
scorer, 6-foot-6 sophomore Deontae Hawkins, was held to just two points
but recorded seven boards and blocked four shots altering many others.

Senior Brandon Arehart backed Rollins’ 18 points with 10 of his
own including three triples. Arehart had six of Wilmington’s eight
second-half points.

With the win, Dunbar improves to (5-0) and Wilmington drops its mark to (2-1).

It is very likely this will not be the last meeting between this pair of D-II heavyweights.



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