Johnson rallies T-Birds past McPherson

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
McPherson’s Jayton Alexander drives by Shawnee Heights during play in the McPherson Invitational.
Shawnee Heights' Isaih Johnson scored 22 points in a 60-54 overtime win over McPherson at the McPherson Invitational. Shawnee Heights takes on Manhattan Saturday.
McPherson’s Eli Pyle takes a shot during play Thursday at the McPherson Invitational. Barring schedule changes, the next scheduled game for the Bullpups is Feb. 5 at Derby.
McPherson’s Adam Elliot looks for a pass during play Thursday against Shawnee Heights in the McPherson Invitational. McPherson’s game Saturday against Maize South was canceled.
McPherson’s Seth Madron scored 17 points in a 60-54 overtime loss to Shawnee Heights Thursday in McPherson.

Down by nine with 3:39 remaining in regulation, it was time for Isaih Johnson to take over for the Shawnee Heights boys’ basketball team Thursday night against host McPherson at the McPherson Invitational.

Johnson scored seven points in the remaining time, including a game-tying layup, and finished the game with 22 points to lead the T-Birds to a 60-54 overtime win.

Shawnee Heights improve to 4-3, 1-1 in tourney play.

“I knew the game was on the line,” Johnson said. “We had to turn the defense up, get some steals and make some plays. That’s the key to winning games, working hard and playing defense. This was my first game back (because of COVID-19). I knew McPherson is always a good team.  When we’re ready and working hard, there aren’t many teams that can beat us.”

“If we had lost that game in overtime, I would have had the same message for our team,” Shawnee Heights coach Ken Darting said. “We did everything we could to have a chance to win that game. We had too many turnovers. We have to stop that. We got out to a good start, let them back in it. The we fought them off and won it in overtime. That’s what we’ve got to do. Ours ain’t going to be pretty. We have to be blue collar.”

Nathan Pewe scored 12 points with four steals for the T-Birds. Harvey Davis scored 11 points.

Shawnee Heights finished 17 of 27 from the free throw line. Some misses in the fourth quarter and in overtime kept McPherson in the game.

“That’s something we’re not good at,” Darting said. “It wasn’t a one-night thing. We have two or three guys hitting them. We’d be 6-1 if we made free throws and didn’t turn it over.”

McPherson, 6-5, was led by Seth Madron with 17 points. Jayton Alexander scored 13 points with eight assists. Darriene Gibbs had 10 rebounds.

“I kept thinking once we got over the hump, and we did, it’s human nature to relax a bit,” McPherson coach Kurt Kinnamon said. “We got (the lead) up to six and our shot selection got questionable. They throw in one where we tip it. I don’t know how that one went in. You have to give them credit. Having Johnson back makes them a lot better. He’s been out. He had a really good game.”

The Bullpups led 12-10 at the end of the quarter. Shawnee Heights opened the second quarter with a 15-2 run, aided by six McPherson turnovers.

McPherson reeled the T-Birds back in with the final six points of the half on an alley-oop slam by Seth Madron from Jayton Alexander, trailing 25-20 at the half.

Trailing 29-25, McPherson ended the third quarter on a 13-6 run. 

Shawnee Heights opened the fourth quarter hitting just one of four free throws. McPherson took advantage with an Alexander layup and one of two Madron free throws. Layups by Mason Miller layup and Madron put McPherson up by nine.

Johnson replied with a 3-pointer and a two-pointer off a steal. After a McPherson miss from the free throw line, Harvey Davis hit a layup. A Johnson layup off a steal tied the game with 1:37 in regulation.

Shawnee Heights got the ball back, but missed a short jumper with about 45 seconds remaining. McPherson turned the ball over 15 seconds later. A Davis shot at the buzzer hit the front of the rim.

A pair of Jarrin Sanders free throws sparked a 9-2 Heights run in overtime. Alexander snapped the run with a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left in the period. After Davis hit one of two free throws, Alexander hit another trey.

Pewe and Andrew Rantz each hit free throws in the final minute to secure the win.

The scheduled early game between Manhattan and Maize South was canceled as Maize South was forced to withdraw because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Shawnee Heights closes out tourney play at 5 p.m. Saturday against Manhattan, 2-0 in the tournament.

“If we win Saturday, we’re the champions,” Darting said. “They are 2-0 and we’re 1-1. If we play them and beat them, we’re 2-1 and they’re 2-1 and it goes head-to-head.”

McPherson was scheduled to play Maize South, but that game was canceled. A game scheduled for Jan. 26 at Andover Central also has been canceled. The next scheduled game for the Bullpups is Feb. 5 at Derby.

“It’s going to be so long,” Kinnamon said. “It’s hard on everybody. You don’t want to take a bunch of days off. It’s also hard to keep the interest of 15- to 18-year olds. We’ll so some shooting in and do some things to get better.”

SHAWNEE HEIGHTS (4-3) — Pewe 4-8 3-5 12, Johnson 8-15 3-6 22, Sanders 0-1 4-7 4, Rantz 3-6 2-2 8, Davis 3-13 5-6 11, Dodge 0-0 0-0 0, Showalter 1-5 0-1 2, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS 19-48 17-27 60.

McPHERSON (6-5) — Pyle 1-6 0-0 3, Dukes 1-8 0-1 2, Madron 7-14 3-4 17, Alexander 5-7 1-2 13, Gibbs 2-4 1-2 5, Buckbee 1-1 0-0 2, Alvord 0-0 0-0 0, Elliot 2-5 2-2 7, Miller 2-4 1-2 5, TOTALS 21-49 8-13 54.

Shawnee Hts.;10;15;10;10;15;—;60


Total fouls — SH 13, McP. 22. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — SH 5-19 (Pewe 1-5, Johnson 3-5, Rantz 0-2, Davis 0-3, Showalter 1-4), McP. 4-16 (Pyle 1-5, Madron 0-3, Alexander 2-4, Elliot 1-4). Rebounds — SH 26 (Rantz 8), McP. 37 (Gibbs 10). Assists — SH 10 (Sanders 5), McP. 14 (Alexander 8). Turnovers — SH 13 (Johnson 4), McP. 20 (Alexander 5). Blocked shots — SH 3 (Harvey 2), McP. 2 (Gibbs 2). Steals — SH 11 (Pewe 4), McP. 6 (Alexander 2).

Mark Schnabel can be reached at