By Jason Arndt
McKenna Johnson is only a sophomore on the Wilmot Union High School girls basketball team.
However, since her freshman year, the quiet 5-foot-8 point guard has already taken control of the program’s single-game scoring records, including most points scored and 3-pointers made.
Johnson’s string of success continued on Feb. 4 at Delavan-Darien, where she broke her previous single game high in 3-pointers with 11, and in turn, re-established the school scoring record with 41 points en route to a 74-44 Panthers victory.
As a freshman, she tied the school-record with eight triples during a 39-point performance against visiting Watertown.
Coincidently enough, her 41 points supplanted her previous best of 40 set against Delavan-Darien in last year’s Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 regional semifinal.
But Johnson, who typically doesn’t look at school records, quickly pointed out the accomplishment would not have been possible without her teammates.
“It was a really good experience, but my teammates had a lot to do with it,” she said. “We had a lot of good ball movement.”
Johnson, meanwhile, admits she isn’t sure why her career milestones have occurred against the Comets.
‘Off the charts’
Johnson scored 21 first half points and almost immediately found her flow at the start of the contest with Delavan-Darien.
After struggling from behind the arc in recent games, said she felt the vibe after she made her second 3-pointer.
Panthers coach Keith Skryznecki agreed, adding the sophomore shooter took control, noting she didn’t force any of her shots.
“She was off the charts,” he said.
“None of those shots were forced (on Feb. 4), it was through the rhythm of the game and lot of her teammates found her when she was open,” he said. “That is huge when you got a teammate on fire.”
Before her scoring barrage on Feb. 4, Johnson only made one 3-pointer in the previous four games, according to WisSports.net.
Johnson said the change came after she spent time working with her coaches and finding the right balance with her shooting repertoire.
“In the last few games, I haven’t been on balance with my shooting,” she said. “Before the game, we talked about being on balance and it really paid off.”
Despite struggling from the 3-point line, Johnson still found a way to score 20 or more points in the five games leading up to her record-setting performance, thanks to a strong inside presence and making free throws.
Skryznecki noted Johnson has always been willing to draw contact and take fouls for the entire season.
“She has been getting to the rim, half of her points the last couple of games have been from the free throw line, which is her creating contact beneath the rim,” he said.
Wilmot, which has won eight of its last nine games, including a three-game winning streak, improved to 14-7 overall and holds possession of third place in the Southern Lakes Conference standings at 8-3 after the contest with Delavan-Darien.
The Panthers, who carried a 38-19 advantage into halftime, outscored the Comets 36-25 in the second half to secure the conference win.
Senior Madelyn Johnson finished with 11 points, including nine from 3-point range, while junior Olivia Raymond added nine.
McKenna, again, stated the win came courtesy of a well-balanced effort with multiple teammates contributing in one way or another.
“I think it was a collective effort because everybody was contributing with the rebounding on the defensive end, it was just an all-around good night,” she said.
Rylee Crull scored a team-leading 17 points while Addison Stallings pitched in 12 for Delavan-Darien (4-15, 1-10 SLC).
As for the recent winning streak, according to McKenna, she believes the team has finally meshed as a cohesive unit.
“We are just getting really close as a team,” she said. “Everybody cares for each other and we always have each other’s back.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, have three games remaining in the regular season slate with the first coming at first place Union Grove on Friday.
Wilmot will then play at Elkhorn on Feb. 15 before concluding its season in a meeting against visiting Waterford two days later.
McKenna Johnson, as of Monday, sits atop the SLC scoring list with 25.2 points per game and nearly outpaces second place Crull by 10 points.
Additionally, since her freshman year, McKenna Johnson has registered 844 career points and will more than likely add to that number as she continues her Wilmot career.
McKenna said she never thought she could make an immediate impact in terms of team records.
“I never really envisioned it, but I think it is really cool,” she said.
Johnson’s humble demeanor didn’t come as a surprise to Skryznecki.
“She is just a quiet, hardworking person,” he said.
The Panthers’ first-year coach, meanwhile, said McKenna is capable of playing an entire contest with her work ethic.
“She has worked hard enough to where she can go the whole game.”