"Those Guys Aren't Going To Quit" - Veteran Celtics Drop Skyhawks 113-98

Monday, November 8, 2021 - by Joseph Dycus
Sharife Cooper challenges Luke Kornet at the rim
Sharife Cooper challenges Luke Kornet at the rim

Jalen Johnson started above the free throw line and set a quick screen for pick-and-roll maestro Sharife Cooper. Johnson then rolled to the left side of the basket as Cooper applied pressure to the right, diving hard to the rim. A Maine defender was in the area, but was ultimately inconsequential after Johnson exploded upward. The 2021 first-rounder from Duke absorbed the ball above the rim with his right hand and then threw it down over his green obstacle for two points. 


By the end of the half, Johnson had 21 points on 9-12 shooting and the Skyhawks could do no wrong offensively.

That 72-60 lead seemed like a hazy dream 24 minutes later, when the Maine Celtics were closing out a 113-98 blowout and Johnson was sitting on the bench. He was still stuck on 21 points, but coach Steve Gansey said Johnson’s defense and effort had more to do with his benching than Johnson’s offense. 


“These young guys have to understand and learn how to be better professionals,” coach Steve Gansey said. “Jalen is young and played only a few games at Duke and in summer league. I didn’t like how he was conducting himself, so I decided to sit him down. I’m trying to get these guys ready for another or better situation, whether that be with the Hawks, another team, or an overseas team.”


The Skyhawks got whatever they wanted in the first half, sporting a balanced attack headlined by the two incredible rookies Cooper and Johnson. Sharife Cooper easily drove past Maine guards Chris Clemons and Ryan Arcidiacono on the perimeter and set up teammates using a bevy of creative passes. Veteran guard Cat Barber also provided a sparkplug off the bench. He used his quickness to dart in and out of space on his way to crafty finishes around the rim. 


“We’ve got some quiet guys, but you don’t want to always hear the coach,” coach Gansey said. “Empowering some of these players is something I’m going to do. The vets can say whatever they want, because I know they’re thinking the right things.”


The first half was defined by quick passes and even quicker triggers on shot attempts. Maine made shots, as evidenced by the 60 they put up in the half, but Atlanta was for the most part rotating and pressuring shots. But after Maine made adjustments, Skylar Mays (18 points) said the young Skyhawks did not react well. 


“When they make adjustments, we have to react,” Mays said. “They did a much better job on switches and pushing us out of bounds. And we got lazy with our ball-movement.”


NBA veterans abounded on the Maine roster, and it showed in the second half. Ryan Arcidiacono endured a scary fall, but otherwise had a perfect night. He popped free for 17 points, and generally got wherever he wanted to go against Cooper and Barber. Sam Hauser set fire to College Park from the perimeter by hitting five triples, and swingman Theo Pinson poured in an efficient 22 while also playing great defense. 


“If you look at their roster, Maine has NBA experience and their guys have played and started on NBA teams,” coach Gansey said. “Theo Pinson is a NBA player who led a team to a G-League championship. Those guys aren’t going to quit.”


The Skyhawks have almost two weeks off and will not play again until Nov. 19 against Delaware. Coach Gansey believes fans will see a different team than the one that has lost their first two games of the season. 


“We would score and we’d just jog back and point, and you can’t do that in this league because the other team is going to find mismatches and pick you apart,” Gansey said. “There’s a lot to work on. We just overall have to get better as a team, and we need our entire team together to do that.”


MAINE CLETICS:                      30        30        29        24        -           113

COLLEGE PARK SKYHAWKS:   34        38        14        12        -            98


CELTICS: Theo Pinson 22, Juwan Morgan 18, Sam Hauser 17, Ryan Arcidiacono 17, Luke Kornet 14, Chris Clemons 14, Jaysean Paige 7, Kenny Wooten 4, Deng Adel 2


SKYHAWKS: Jalen Johnson 21, Skylar Mays 18, Sharife Cooper 14, Ibi Watson-Boye 14, Cat Barber 11, DaQuan Jeffries 7, A.J Lawson 6, Justin Tillman 5, Johnny Hamilton 2


3FG: Celtics 16 (Hauser 5, Pinson 4, Clemons 2, Morgan 2, Paige 1, Kornet 1, Arcidiacono 1); Skyhawks 14 (Watson-Boye 3, Mays 3, Johnson 3, Lawson 2, Barber 1, Jeffries 1, Cooper 1)



Do you have an opinion on this article, or have a story you believe needs coverage? You can contact the author at Joseph.A.Dycus@gmail.com or on Twitter at @joseph_dycus.

AA South Baseball Standings

Results From Women's 2BB4 At Valleybrook

Oliver Chases Down $5,000 Firecracker 50 Victory Saturday Night

AA-South Standings/Results (as of games of 7/4/22) Second Half North Division Team W L PCT GB Rocket ... (click for more)

The CWGA ladies played at the Valleybrook course on Tuesday in the 2BB4. The results: 1st: Darlene Werhnyak, Mary Jenkins, Maggie Massey, Dona Robinson - 16 2nd: Carlene Ryon, ... (click for more)

On Saturday night, the Fort Payne Motor Speedway in Northeast Alabama outside Chattanooga hosted its 15th annual FIRECRACKER 50 event for Super Late Models and it was Chase Oliver of nearby Crossville, ... (click for more)


AA South Baseball Standings

AA-South Standings/Results (as of games of 7/4/22) Second Half North Division Team W L PCT GB Rocket City (LAA)* 5 2 .714 - Birmingham (CWS) 4 3 .571 1.0 Tennessee (CHC) 3 ... (click for more)

Results From Women's 2BB4 At Valleybrook

The CWGA ladies played at the Valleybrook course on Tuesday in the 2BB4. The results: 1st: Darlene Werhnyak, Mary Jenkins, Maggie Massey, Dona Robinson - 16 2nd: Carlene Ryon, Linda Carter, Edwina Montgomery, Rosalie Basten - 15 Gross Winner from Red Tees: Carlene Ryon Net Winner from Red Tees: Linda Carter Gross Winner from White Tees: Maggie Massey ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Supt. Robertson Sees "Many Positive Results" In Latest TCAP Data

Hamilton County students scored at or above statewide proficiency levels in more than 64 percent of tested areas during the 2021-22 school year according to district-level TCAP results released by the Tennessee Department of Education on Wednesday morning. Of the 28 content areas tested in grades 3-12, Hamilton County students met or exceeded proficiency scores from the state ... (click for more)

EPA Awards Chattanooga $4.9 Million To Clean Up Polluted Sites

At a press conference at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland site, Environmental Protection Agency officials announced that the federal agency has awarded Chattanooga $4.9 million in funding to tackle brownfields in the city, "helping turn contaminated sites into productive economic opportunities." The funds consist of two $500,000 grants - one for analysis, one for cleanup - and $3.9 ... (click for more)


Dangerous Dam At Ketner's Mill Has Claimed Too Many Young Lives

Something must be done about the dangerous low head dam at Ketner’s Mill on the Sequatchie River in Whitwell, Tn. (Marion County). This dam is a dangerous public safety hazard that has claimed the lives of many young people through the years. It seems to me to be grossly negligent for the owner of this dam (which no longer serves any purpose) to continue to allow unknowing ... (click for more)

Uncovering Chattanooga’s Hidden Gem

Missionary Ridge is Chattanooga's "diamond in the rough" that can spearhead a new era in our city's growth. Way back on Nov. 25, 1863, soldiers under the leadership of General Ulysses S. Grant stormed Missionary Ridge and broke the back of the Confederacy. The Battle of Missionary Ridge demonstrated the superior forces of the industrialized North and gave their soldiers a chance ... (click for more)