116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s the odd guy in the starting lineup for this Cedar Rapids Washington boys’ basketball team. To be more precise, he’s the new guy.
Noah Johnson transferred from Linn-Mar to play hoops this season with the Warriors and has secured a starting position. You saw why Monday night in a season opener against Mount Pleasant at the Warriors gym.
Nothing like a 19-point debut for your new school in its 58-33 romp. If the senior guard was out to make an immediate impression on his new mates and coaches, well, mission accomplished.
“It was really great,” Johnson said. “Last year, I wasn’t able to play varsity unfortunately at a differerent school. But I think I’m at the right place now. I can make an impact on the court, and we’re going to see how far we can go with this lineup.”
That lineup also consists of J.J. Willis, Traijan Sain, Jaden Harris and Jesse Sellers. They’ve played a ton of games together in their varsity careers, especially Sain, Harris and Sellers.
Had point guard Will Hodges not transferred to Aplington-Parkersburg, Washington would have had all five starters back from a 2021-22 team that lost to Cedar Rapids Kennedy in a Class 4A substate final. But Johnson might not have gotten as much run as he got Monday, when he seemingly got to the rim whenever he wished.
He made 9 of his 14 field-goal attempts.
“I think he’s one of the best offensive assets we have right now,” said Sain, who added 16 points, including a flashy dunk when Sellers lobbed a pass off the backboard in transition to him. “I think that was the missing piece to the crystal ball, you know what I mean? We didn’t have a lot of inside dominance last year. We weren’t super big, we weren’t super deep. But that addition, you’ve got someone in the paint, who can (score in there) and kick it. Easy layups, transitions, he’s fast. He can jump.”
“He has known some of the guys for a long time,” Wash Coach Justin Decker said. “He has played with them coming up and stuff, so they’re familiar with each other. Him buying into my stuff this early, he’s a sponge, he wants to learn. He’ll do anything I ask him to do. For example, I tell him not to settle from the perimenter and get to the rim, and that’s what he did today. The buy-in has been the biggest thing. People want to play here now. A few years ago, maybe that wasn’t the case. But these guys want to play, they want to play with each other.”
Washington should get a stiffer test Thursday night when it travels to Bettendorf. Then it’s Marion on Saturday.
Even without Hodges and junior Stevie Cain, who tore an ACL and MCL in his knee during football season, the feeling is there is enough talent around to be a really good team.
“It’s a win to start,” Decker said. “I think like every team at the beginning of the year, the first game, the first quarter, guys are just kind of feeing it out. I thought we came out the rest of the game and played to our identity offensively and defensively. Guys got it started, and we just went from there.”
AT CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON
MOUNT PLEASANT (33): Carter Amos 1-2 2-4 4, Nate Stroud 3-3 0-0 6, Payton Hagans 4-19 1-2 9, Aaiden Ashton 2-4 0-0 6, Owen Vansickel 1-4 0-0 2, Christian Stacy 1-8 2-2 4, Chris Ewoldt 0-1 0-0 0, Drake Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Zachary Newton 0-0 0-0 0, Tim Cam 1-1 0-2 2, Avin Truong 0-0 0-0 0, Cason Edwards 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-42 5-10 33.
C.R. WASHINGTON (58): J.J. Willis 2-4 0-1 4, Traijan Sain 8-13 0-0 16, Jaden Harris 1-3 2-3 4, Noah Johnson 9-14 1-3 19, Jesse Sellers 3-7 3-3 8, Bryce Brim 1-2 0-0 3, Braden Becker 0-2 0-0 0, Jaxton Schroeder 0-1 0-2 0, Markies Stewart 0-2 0-0 0, Sam Lindwall 0-0 0-0 0, Luke Toms 0-0 0-0 0, Ben Blocklinger 0-2 0-0 0, Landyn Mitvalsky 0-1 0-0 0, Miles Lapointe 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-52 5-11 58.
End of First Quarter - C.R. Washington 15, Mount Pleasant 11. Halftime - C.R. Washington 34, Mount Pleasant 16. End of Third Quarter - C.R. Washington 47, Mount Pleasant 23.
3-point goals - Mount Pleasant 2-18 (Hagans 0-8, Amos 0-1, Ashton 2-4, Stacy 0-5), C.R. Washington 1-12 (Sain 0-3, Harris 0-1, Sellers 0-2, Brim 1-2, Becker 0-2, Stewart 0-1). Rebounds - Mount Pleasant 31 (Hagans 9), C.R. Washington 27 (Sain, Harris 5). Total fouls - Mount Pleasant 10, C.R. Washington 14. Fouled out - None. Turnovers - Mount Pleasant 17, C.R. Washington 8.
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