Teams often turn to their best, most experienced players to make things happen when the situation calls for it.
And in Shoemaker’s Region I-5A bi-district playoff matchup against No. 5 South Grand Prairie, senior guards Shane Johnson and Patrick Mark answered the call.
“It means everything in the world,” Johnson said about playing for Shoemaker.
In addition to their point totals, the Grey Wolves duo provided some of the biggest plays on both ends of the floor during Shoemaker’s 64-61 overtime loss.
Johnson led all scorers with 19 points while Mark filled in 15 in the loss. Fellow senior Nykolas Dawson scored two.
“Like I told those guys, it’s more than about basketball, it’s about raising young men,” Shoemaker head coach Emund Prichett said about the seniors. “I think those kids learned a lot and they know that they can depend on anybody in the program because they know they’re Grey Wolves for life.”
The duo were a part of a senior class of five that played their final season in Prichett’s first as head coach after serving as a Shoemaker assistant.
It appeared South Grand Prairie (23-7) stole control of the game after putting Shoemaker (21-8) in a 16-point hole with 2:12 left in the third, but the fourth quarter belonged to Johnson and Mark.
“It’s more intense in the playoffs,” Mark said. “It’s win or go home, so it’s more intense. Everyone was going hard; we just came up short.”
It was a fitting way to go out for Johnson, a versatile wing who came into the game as the Grey Wolves leading scorer, and Mark, who took a new role coming off the bench in order to help the team succeed.
Mark hit the final 3-pointer of his prep career with 5:14 to play in regulation and Johnson followed with a layup off a Mark steal that cut South Grand Prairie’s lead to 49-44 13 seconds later.
Johnson went on to score five of the next eight Shoemaker points, including free throws that tied the game at 55 and put Shoemaker ahead 56-55 with 1:35 left in the fourth.
Mark took a charge call immediately after the Warriors inbounded the ball and Johnson added a final Grey Wolves point of regulation on a free throw.
“It was a great season,” Prichett said. “I think we learned a lot; I think we laid a foundation and we represented Shoemaker well, which is what we’re trying to do when we step on the floor.”
Mark scored the final points of his prep career and Shoemaker’s season after hitting a pair of free throws on a scoring chance he got after coming up with a steal.
The duo combined to score 18 points in the second half and overtime.
“This year was actually fun, I actually had fun this year,” Mark said. “We just started fresh and rebuilt from last year. It was nothing new, but I had real fun this year. We did it as a team.”