When Tuscarora High School junior Shania Johnson gets a basketball in her hands, something exciting usually happens for the Titans.
“Usually when it’s in my hands, I just love it,” she said. “I don’t know why — it’s just passion. I just love basketball.”
One possession down the floor, the 5-foot-2 guard will blow around a teammate’s screen, take to the ball basket and take a shot against multiple defenders. The next offensive set, Johnson, such as in her team’s 44-41 win against Gov. Thomas Johnson last week, can pull up from well beyond the 3-point line with a shot that swishes through the net.
She has been causing problems for defenders over the past three years by averaging 16.9 points per game as a freshman, roughly 21 points a game last season and 12.8 this winter. In turn, the Titans have become a much more balanced squad (4-1 record).
“Shania, she’s a good point guard,” Thomas Johnson coach Darryl Whiten said. “We know what kind of ballplayer she is. She’s pretty much their catalyst and a lot of their offense runs through her. She’s quick and she’s explosive.”
Just when defenses attempt to adapt to Johnson’s scoring prowess by switching or hedging on screens or collapsing on her during drives to the basket, Johnson then feeds her teammates with nifty passes for short jumpers or layups.
She dished out five assists in both her freshman and sophomore campaigns and she is averaging more than three this season.
“Playing with Shania is excellent because she’s such a good point guard,” Tuscarora junior Taylor Johnson said. “You learn so much. She does so much for the team. She’s a leader. She makes everyone play together and we all learn from each other because of her.”
Shania Johnson has been equally effective on the defensive end as well, using her quick hands to swipe the ball away from opposing players. She had three in the Thomas Johnson victory that she turned into layups for herself or teammates.
Johnson averaged 6.2 steals a game as freshman, four steals per game last season and she is around five steals per contest this season.
“She’s a tough little cookie there and I believe she is the best player here in Frederick and I think she’s going to do a lot of great things for us this year,” Tuscarora coach Rob Tucker said.
Johnson, who began playing basketball with her older brother when she was 4, hopes Tuscarora will hoist a state championship banner in March. The Titans are certainly off to a good start, having already surpassed last year’s win total (three).
“The girls are coming to gym and working hard and we still have a lot of room for improvement,” Tucker said. “It’s tremendous excitement. I’m having a good time with the girls.”