It isn't very often you see a highly anticipated game actually live up to its billing but that's exactly what happened on Friday night as the top ranked Garfield Heights Bulldogs visited the Bengals of Benedictine.
In front of a sold out, standing room only crowd, Garfield held on to win 89-83 after maintaining a double digit lead throughout the first half, but the night belonged to freshman Meechie Johnson. He knocked in eight three-pointers en route to a 50 point explosion.
Check out the highlights below via 3rdCoastHoops and read the quick recap!
Garfield Heights was able to maintain a 26-18 lead after eight minutes of play as their trio of forwards, led by Alonzo Gaffney, were able to provide them extra possessions and a clear edge on the glass.
The activity and energy from Benedictine guards Davin Zeigler and Chris Jefferson was running at a high level in the team's home opener and they were able to disrupt some things defensively. Zeigler established himself early on by attacking the rim, using his quick first step to draw contact and earn eight first half attempts at the charity stripe.
Benedictine sophomore E.J. Buckner started the second quarter off with a pair of triples but Garfield's Meechie Johnson was able to answer with a two of his own. Johnson didn't have any plans on cooling off as he scored 24 points in the first half in just about any way imaginable. A quick run by seniors Alex Heath and Taj'Maal Toney extended the Bulldog lead to 13 going into the locker room.
Garfield Heights came out of the break in a 2-3 zone and would remain in it for the duration of the second half. Even without junior Brison Waller, who left in the first quarter with a hip injury, Garfield's length and activity was enough to change the dynamic of the game and slow down the tempo on both ends.
Benedictine struggled to get much going in the halfcourt offensively but sophomore Anthony Maxie gave the team a boost of energy after he put back a ridiculous tip dunk in traffic. Unfortunately, a last second foul on the following play sent Meechie Johnson to the free-throw line with three tenths of a second left on the clock in the third quarter.
Benedictine would respond with a 13-5 run midway through the fourth, cutting the lead from 12 to just four with 3:57 left on the clock. Jefferson scored all 11 of his points in the second half and flirted with a triple double as he grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 6 assists.
With a chance to tie the game, the Bengals were met at the rim by Gaffney and the 6'8 junior was able to turn away three consecutive shot attempts. Things got interesting late as Benedictine was forced to play the foul game but a few costly turnovers would prove to be the difference. in the end.
Junior Davin Zeigler faceguarding Garfield Heights freshman Meechie Johnson via 3rdCoastHoops
Meechie Johnson (Garfield Heights) PG 2021 - Special. That's the word that Meechie's uncle and Garfield head coach Sonny Johnson used to describe his nephew's performance on Friday night. The freshman tallied an area-high 50 points in what was one of the most impressive scoring outputs you will see at the high school level. Johnson got into a rhythm early on with a number of uncontested jumpers and he didn't look back. After knocking down 10 field goals in the first half, he would go on to score 24 in the second half. NBA stars LeBron James and C.J. McCollum showed Johnson some love via Twitter following the big-time night.
Davin Zeigler (Benedictine) CG 2019 - Zeigler was able to get into a rhythm at the FT line, and the tempo of the first half played right into the hands of the 6'1 junior. His explosive step allowed him to get into the paint and out in transition for a pair of dunks in what was a career night. As the game slowed down, Zeigler showed an improved maturity in the halfcourt as he scored 18 points versus the Bulldogs zone. He notched 32 points on the night, including four three-pointers.
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Final: Cleveland Heights - 56 Lutheran East - 52 Strong 4th quarter from 2019 WF Nigel Martin. Made a number of plays at the rim late.
1:14 to play and we’re tied at 52
Cleveland Heights has taken their first lead of the game with 3:00 remaining in the final quarter. Tigers lead 52-50.