North Idaho College wing Bo Johnson wasn’t the tallest player on the court Saturday night, but no one could look him in the eye when he decided to elevate his game.
Johnson scored 23 points in the Cardinals’ 75-62 victory over visiting Western Montana College in the Coeur d’Alene Resort Classic at Christianson Gym.
“He is obviously a great athlete and he was the only guy that we couldn’t keep from scoring,” Western Montana coach Mark Durham said.
Johnson was the key to his team’s ability to break down the first zone defense they had seen all year. In the first half, NIC couldn’t seem to score on the Bulldogs. The second half was a different story.
“At halftime, coach (Hugh) Watson told me to step to the middle of the zone to help open up the court,” Johnson said.
With Johnson in the middle, NIC was able to get better shots on the perimeter and began to pull away. After going into the half down 34-31, Johnson and Andre McKanstry gave the Cardinals the lead at 40-38. McKanstry wound up with 16 points.
“At halftime I stressed not fouling and playing them straight up,” Watson said.
His players apparently listened as Western Montana had no foul shots in the second half. The lack of free throws awarded to his team didn’t escape Durham.
“When you’re on the road, you have to be prepared for that kind of adversity,” Durham said.
The Bulldogs’ 6-foot-9 Ryan Rebsom exploited NIC’s lack of size early in both halves on his way to 19 points. Rebsom scored nine points in the first 5 minutes of the game to help his team take a 16-3 lead. NIC battled back to tie the game at 21, and the teams traded leads throughout the half.
The Cardinals pulled away late in the second half as Shawn Myrick knocked down a pair of 3-pointers late in his first game back after suspension.
“It helped tonight to have Shawn back because it gave (point guard) Todd (Myles) some time to rest,” Watson said.
In an earlier game in the four-team crossover tournament, Snow Community College defeated Miles City 80-61.
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