Johnson’s boys put on a great basketball show even without ‘The Entertainer’

By: Sean Moylan
   Early in the second quarter of last Thursday’s home game versus Delran, the Northern Burlington County Regional High School boys’ varsity basketball team lost its extraordinary floor leader Cedric Jackson to an ankle injury.
   Consequently, the Greyhounds temporarily lost their way only to rediscover heroes in an amazing 22-15 fourth quarter which propelled them to a 67-48 victory over the Bears.
   For all intents and purposes, the game could not have started out any better for the Greyhounds. Players were dunking left and right and by the conclusion of the opening quarter, NBC had grabbed a commanding 26-8 advantage.
   "We finally got the electricity back in the building. The first quarter was an exciting quarter," noted NBC head coach Herman Johnson.
   However when Jackson (eight points) injured his ankle at the start of quarter number two, it took a while for the team to adjust to his absence on the hardwood.
   "Initially they didn’t handle it well (the injury). A lot of people don’t realize how great Cedric Jackson is," said Coach Johnson, pointing to "the Entertainer’s" uncanny ability to make players around him better.
   "I put the same five starters on the floor minus Cedric in the second quarter and we only scored six points," said Coach Johnson, whose club surrendered 13 second-quarter points.
   At the half, though, Jackson and Coach Johnson reminded the club that it was pretty good even without him.
   Consequently, the Greyhounds emerged from the locker room with a newfound positive attitude in the third quarter. And Anthony Barksdale, who scored 11 points, proved, once again, that he can never be discounted.
   "Anthony Barksdale’s defense was as god as I have ever seen it," said Coach Johnson.
   Which is saying a lot considering he is one of the best defender in the county.
   However, one of the youngest Greyhounds, Keith Jones, led the club’s offensive charge.
   "(Amazingly) The guy who steps up is Keith Jones, the freshman, who got 13 points (of a game-high 22) in the fourth quarter," Coach Jones said.
   However, Coach Johnson also appreciated Cornel Jones’ 16-point explosion, Durrell Whitmore’s seven points and Jerry Howell’s (two points) overall effort before he hurt his knee (he’s day-to-day) in the contest.
   It was a great team victory.
   Jackson was cleared to play this past Monday’s scheduled game at Burlington Township, but it was postponed until this Monday because of inclement weather.
   Yet, NBC did have a leader on the floor in Barksdale.
   "Barksdale . . .he has been a model player," said Coach Johnson. "I cannot say enough about Anthony Barksdale (a three-year starter)."
   At 9-2, NBC has already wrapped up a playoff spot. But today’s (Thursday) home game versus Willingboro is a crucial one for playoff seeding and for the Liberty Division title implications. "It’s probably the biggest (regular season) game in my three years over here," said Coach Johnson.
   "One of Cedric’s goals and my goals (for the team) was to try to win a Liberty Division championship."
   A win today would put NBC in solid position to attain that goal. Then on Saturday, NBC is scheduled to host Lenape.