When Herndon guard Will Ferguson left the game for good after he landed hard on the floor after a missed dunk during the fourth quarter against Chantilly, it appeared his team’s chances left with him.
The senior guard had scored 14 consecutive points to push his team ahead of their Concorde District rival.
But back-court mate Dorian Johnson stepped up for the Hornets. He scored eight of his 25 points in the final four minutes to help visiting Herndon win, 75-65.
“They weren’t really guarding me because they were focusing on Will,” Johnson said. “So I just tried to be aggressive and take the open looks.”
The junior’s offensive mind-set made for an impressive start to the contest.
With starter Kent Auslander out with an illness and Ferguson missing five shots in a scoreless first quarter, Johnson scored 13 points.
But the Chargers (12-2, 2-1 Concorde) held a 19-15 lead behind a balanced attack — five players scored in the opening period.
The teams traded baskets and turnovers in the second quarter and Chantilly led at halftime, 32-31.
After the break, Ferguson caught fire; he scored 16 points to push the Hornets ahead by eight. Defensively, Herndon’s diamond zone kept the bigger Chargers out of the lane and instead had them on the perimeter, where they often settled for long jumpers.
“I was a little frustrated because my shot wasn’t falling at first, but Coach [Gary Hall] told me at halftime to keep shooting and eventually they started falling,” said Ferguson, who finished with 25 points. “I’d say I had better looks and shots in the second half.”
Ferguson’s string of 14 straight points came to a crashing halt midway through the fourth when he lost control in the air on a dunk attempt and fell on his head. Though he walked off on his own power, the senior was held out of the rest of the game after telling trainers he briefly blacked out.
On the ensuing play, Deandre Harris (15 points) hit a three to close the gap to 56-54. But instead of sparking the Chargers, it was followed by a three-minute scoring drought and a fifth foul by Brian Sydnor (14 points). Johnson took advantage, teaming with Delontae Wingfield to score 14 critical points down the stretch for the Hornets (10-4, 2-1).
“We needed a signature win to give our program some credibility and confidence; this was it,” said Hall, who is in his first season back with the Hornets after retiring in 2006 following his 18th season. “The game was still in the balance when Will got hurt and the way the guys responded is what I’m most proud of.”