Senior guard Tavari Johnson certainly has assisted to the success of the Lyons Township High School boys basketball team.
The Akron recruit will continue to do so while challenging the school’s single-season record of 226 assists by Luke Sewall in 1980.
“I like to get everybody involved,” said Johnson, whose 12 assists on Dec. 17 was one shy of the single-game school record.
“It’s really easy for me to do it when I’ve got a bunch of teammates that can shoot. I’ve got [Nik Polonowski, Aidan Sullivan, Billy Bach] all on the outside. They make it easy for me passing the ball.”
Johnson contributed eight assists and plenty more on Jan. 7 as the Lions defeated Oak Park and River Forest High School 74-60 for a key West Suburban Conference Silver Division victory in LaGrange.
Johnson finished with 25 points, his second highest total this season that also included his second and third dunks. Polonowski added 14 points and seven rebounds, Bach had nine points and Graham Smith eight.
On their first three possessions of the second half, the Lions (12-3, 4-1 in WSC Silver) regained control for good after OPRF (7-5, 1-1) trimmed their 35-26 second-quarter lead to 38-34 by halftime.
“That was a big momentum shift at the start of the half and I think it was a big factor in the game,” LTHS coach Tom Sloan said.
Will Carroll turned his steal in the lane into a coast-to-coast layup, Polonowski sank a three off a pass from Johnson and Johnson followed with a driving layup for a 45-34 lead.
“We stayed together, believed in ourselves, talked [at halftime] about what we had to do to change it,” Johnson said. “They were killing us on the offensive boards. We had to be tougher in going to the basket. That’s what we did and we came out hot.”
LTHS led 55-45 after three quarters and opened the fourth with a 13-3 run for a 68-48 advantage with 4:32 left.
Johnson’s uncontested dunk for a 30-21 lead came from Jackson Niego’s hustle to nudge the ball beyond half court.
Johnson also scored the Lions’ last three baskets of the third quarter and first two of the fourth, followed soon by his only three.
“It’s a lot of fun playing a team like that. They play fast, run up and down the court and that’s how we like to play,” Johnson said. “I guess we played faster.”