dave_johnson1.jpgKEN EXUM/The Register-Mail

IHSA Assistant Executive Director Scott Johnson, left, waits with 1976 ROVA basketball great Dave Johnson at the ceremony naming him one of the 100 legends of the state tournament.

Johnson's wait worth it

Ex-ROVA star returns for IHSA 'Legends' honor

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Saturday, December 9, 2006

ONEIDA - Dave Johnson's placement among the 100 greatest basketball figures in Illinois High School Association history was destined to be delayed.

The 1976 ROVA standout was originally supposed to be honored during a Dec. 1 match-up between ROWVA and Williamsfield as part of the IHSA's "100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament Ball of Fame Tour." The night of the game, though, snowstorms caused the ceremony to be postponed until Friday night's game between the ROWVA and Yorkwood boys teams.

Johnson and members of the IHSA were again put on hold Friday as they watched the ROWVA and Yorkwood junior varsity teams reach double overtime. Finally, the Tigers held off the Golden Bears in the second overtime 33-31 and Johnson was able to take the floor for his moment in the spotlight.

The 6-foot-8-inch former center walked to center court with IHSA assistant executive director Scott Johnson and stood for a brief presentation outlining Johnson's career, which included the Tigers finishing second to Mount Pulaski in the 1976 state tournament.

Despite the wait, Johnson said he was happy to be able to come back and proud to receive the honor.

"It's just been a wonderful evening," Johnson said following the ceremony. "I've just been very pleased with the reception I've got here tonight with people I have not seen in many years. It was a real thrill going out there. I am just really happy."

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KEN EXUM/The Register-Mail

Yorkwood High School's Preston Schrader, left, and ROWVA High School's Keith England dive for a loose ball during the first quarter of their Friday night game in Oneida.

As memorable as the occasion was for Johnson, though, it was equally forgettable for the ROWVA varsity squad. The Tigers were tied with Yorkwood 25-25 at the end of the third quarter, but ultimately suffered a 45-40 loss.

Yorkwood was able to secure the win thanks to timely shooting by guards Devin Reeder and Nathan Toops in the fourth quarter.

The Golden Bears started the fourth quarter in a shooting slump after having just scored five points in the third and letting ROWVA climb into a brief lead. But Reeder and Toops hit back-to-back 3-pointers to begin the fourth and Yorkwood took the lead for good.

"We had a couple kids, Devin Reeder and Nathan Toops both stepped up right in the middle of (ROWVA's) runs," Yorkwood coach Jim Noonan said. "They hit very timely threes. It took the crowd out of it a little bit and kind of killed their momentum."

ROWVA coach Jason Danner said the Golden Bears' fourth quarter threes were daggers for his team. At that point, he said he was forced to substitute players in and out to trade offense for defense.

The Golden Bears extended the lead to as much as nine in the fourth before ROWVA began fouling.

"We got to the point where we were doing offense and defense substitutions and you are kind of banking on them to screw up every time and they didn't screw up every time," Danner said. "I think the kids knew exactly what to do, you are just putting them in a situation where you are down nine with two minutes to go. We cut it to four, but you got to hope they screw up somewhere and they really didn't."

Noonan gave his team credit for never letting down, even when ROWVA made its third quarter run. Even when they struggled offensively, he said his team's effort never faded.

"We're not an outstanding offensive team to be quite honest. We are going to go through spells where it gets kind of ugly," Noonan said. "I think the kids made up for that with their effort. I feel like their effort never changed despite the fact they were struggling a little bit."

Toops and Reeder each finished with 12 points to lead Yorkwood in scoring. Also, Allen Mason had 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots for the Bears, which improved to 4-3 with the win.

Jake Clark had 18 points to lead ROWVA, which fell to 1-2.

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