This past Friday against Briar Woods, Johnson tied a school record she set earlier this year against Heritage with eight assists. A pass-first point guard with a tough handle to slow down, Johnson, who transferred from Dominion, has been the catalyst for Broad Run (10-6, 3-1) this season.
“I’ve had a couple of rough patches in the past but this team knows that I like to pass the ball to them,” Johnson said. “On the court they better be ready, because I’m looking to get them the ball.”
Spartans forward Mariah Leonard has been the biggest beneficiary of Johnson’s willingness to share the basketball. Leonard is averaging 23.4 points per game and is scoring in various phases.
In fast-break opportunities against Briar Woods, Johnson found a sprinting Leonard down the court. In half-court sets, Johnson’s speed has allowed her to penetrate the paint to draw defenders before dishing the ball off.
“I love having A.J. on the team,” Leonard said. “She always encourages you to do better. I know when she gets the ball I can take off down the court and she can throw it to me in transition. I’ll run as fast as I can and know she’ll always throw it right where it needs to be.”
Johnson is averaging 12.3 points and almost four assists per game. Since the new year rolled around, her assists average has jumped to 4.7 in the past seven games, including five in Saturday’s 54-46 win over Robinson.
“We’re blessed to have her,” Broad Run Coach Sean Gundry said. “She’s a firestarter for us. Every night on the floor she makes it go. She gets the engine started. She can blow by anyone at any time, any night she wants to. She does a great job scoring and distributing the ball for us.”
Champe’s boys’ basketball team has continued its resurgence into a competitive run in Conference 28.
The Knights have won their past two games against non-conference opponents Woodgrove and Park View. In a 79-45 victory against Park View on Friday, four players — Zach Burdick, Ismail Canton, Graydon Hester and Jeff Rhodes — scored in double figures for Champe (8-7, 3-2 in Va. Conference 28).
After finishing the 2012-13 season with just one win, Champe could be a contender when the conference tournament rolls around in mid-February.
Rematches against Warren County (11-2, 5-2 ) on Thursday and Loudoun Valley (13-3, 4-0) on Feb. 2 will give the Knights a chance how they stack up against the best in the conference. Champe’s two conference losses came against those teams earlier this season.