ROBERTS VAUX 83, JOHNSONBURG 63
HERSHEY, Pa. - In the final three minutes of the first half, Roberts Vaux saw a nine-point lead turn into a one-point deficit.
But Rysheed Jordan and his teammates, with the burning desire to mark the program's end with a state championship, were not about to let undersized but scrappy Johnsonburg pull off a storybook ending.
"We had to win something," Jordan said "After losing in the Public League final, our main focus was states."
The Cougars, switching to a man-to-man defense and taking away three-point looks, regained command late in the third quarter and stormed past the Rams, 83-63, Friday afternoon to claim the Class A title at the Giant Center.
Jordan, a senior guard and blue-chip recruit, led the way with 32 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one block.
"He's a heck of a player," Johnsonburg coach Bill Shuey said. "You just slow a guy like that down. When they spread the floor, he's tough to stop."
It was against Vaux's zone defense, with 2-3 and 3-2 sets, that the Rams, of District 9, made their second-quarter comeback.
That led to a conversation at the break between Jordan and Vaux boss Jamie Ross. Said Jordan, "I told him, 'I think we should go man-to-man on them.' He agreed with it, and we stuck with it."
After going 5 for 11 from beyond the arc in the first half, Johnsonburg (30-3) went 1 for 11 from that range over the last 24 minutes. Ten of Vaux's 25 third-quarter points came off turnovers.
"I listen to my kids," Ross said. "If they want to play man-to-man, then we're going to play man-to-man. They just have to cooperate by moving their feet and getting out on people."
With Vaux down by 44-41 in the third quarter, Jordan's inside bucket, Trayvond Massenburg's put back, and Sammy Foreman's driving layup started an 18-4 run. Jordan (10) and Foreman (six) combined for 16 points in the frame.
Late in the third quarter, following Khalief Tinley's right-wing trey, Jordan's steal and fastbreak layup upped the advantage to 59-48.
Foreman, a sophomore guard, chipped in 22 points, six assists, five steals, and two rebounds. Massenburg, a 6-8 junior, managed eight rebounds (four on offense), six points, and four blocks.
For the Rams, who allowed 13 offensive rebounds, junior guard Cameron Grumley posted 17 points, five boards, and four assists.
Vaux, which is set to close in June, fell in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs last year. It was ousted in the quarterfinals in 2011.
"It's sweet," Ross said. "We talked about this from the beginning of the year. After we lost to Imhotep Charter in the league final, we had to get back up, start practicing again, and concentrate on states."
Roberts Vaux 23 13 25 22-83
Johnsonburg 14 23 13 13-63
Vaux: Rysheed Jordan 32, Amir Butler 9, Trayvond Massenberg 6, Sammy Foreman 22, Daron Johnson 5, Khalief Tinley 5, Karon Snead 2, Gregory Edwards 2.
Johnsonburg: Cameron Grumley 17, Cole Peterson 11, Frank Kocjancic 11, Quinn Luhr 8, Kyle Sheldon 8, Mitch Holmberg 8.