Johnson leads four in double figures as Aquinas outlasts Buffalo East

Eric Carter gets to the basket during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s high school boys basketball matchup between Aquinas and Buffalo East. Aquinas beat Buffalo East, 71-68. (Photo: PAUL GOTHAM/PICKIN’ SPLINTERS)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Justin Johnson led four in double figures, and the Aquinas Li’l Irish defeated the Buffalo East Panthers (VI), 71-68 in high school boys’ basketball action Saturday at the Wegman-Napier Center.

Johnson netted 18 on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor including 4-of-6 from behind the arc. The sophomore guard connected twice from long range on AQ’s first two possessions of the game and scored eight points to go with one assist as the Li’l Irish grabbed a 19-13 lead after the first quarter.

Johnson scored four more during a decisive spurt late in the third quarter. Trailing by two at 45-43, Danny Speed finished a layup. Two possessions later, Johnson got to the rim for a bucket and a 47-45 edge. Aquinas did not trail again. Kidtrell Blocker converted two free throws, and Johnson closed the quarter with a layup when Marlek Connor picked up a steal and led Johnson into the open court for the basket.


Speed scored five of his 15 points late in the fourth to give AQ a seven-point advantage. The senior guard, who finished 7-of-12 from the floor, connected behind the arc and followed two possessions later with a layup for a 70-63 lead with :56 remaining on the clock.

Blocker and Speed finished with a team-high seven rebounds apiece as the Li’L Irish won the battle of the boards, 36-34.

Blocker added 13 points and handed out five assists. AQ finished with 20 assists on 23 made field goals.

Senior Luke Putnam scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 5-of-8 behind the arc.

AQ finished 12 of 23 from long range for the contest.

Eric Carter had four points. Connor and Steven Mahar scored two points apiece. Mahar hauled in five rebounds.

Aquinas outscored Buffalo East in the paint (30-20) and on second-chance points (15-12). Led by Speed’s 15 points, the Aquinas bench outscored its counterparts 19-2.

Willard Anderson led the Panthers with 33 points on 11-of-27 shooting from the floor including 7-of-16 from behind the arc. Anderson handed out a game-high seven assists. Waunya Shaw added 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Justin Allen corralled a game-high nine boards.

Buffalo East collected eight steals and forced 12 turnovers.

Aquinas improved to 2-3 with the win. The Li’l Irish will play at Bishop Timon (VI) on Tuesday. Buffalo East fell to 4-2.

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