Tuesday October 19th, 2010

By the second TV time out of the second half, Anthony Johnson already had exceeded his first-half output, chipping in nine points as Montana sliced the 20-point Weber lead down to 12. With 11:13 remaining, this version of "The Show" really got started, with the official play-by-play telling the story.

GOOD! LAYUP by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! FT SHOT by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! FT SHOT by JOHNSON, Anthony

Then, after a layup by teammate Derek Selvig ...

GOOD! JUMPER by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! JUMPER by JOHNSON, Anthony

Just like that, a 10-0 run had Montana within two.

"He was playing terrific," Weber State coach Randy Rahe said. "Now all of a sudden you have a hard time stopping it. We tried to trap him a couple times, get the ball out of his hands, and they hurt us when we did that."

Weber responded with a 9-3 run, with Montana's lone bucket being a Johnson trey. It was an eight-point game with 6:30 left when the Wildcats met with Johnson's final, epic volley of shots.

GOOD! FT SHOT by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! FT SHOT by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! FT SHOT by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! FT SHOT by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! JUMPER by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! JUMPER by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! FT SHOT by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! FT SHOT by JOHNSON, Anthony GOOD! LAYUP by JOHNSON, Anthony

Down by a point, there was only one man who was taking the decisive shot. Everyone knew it, including Montana coach Wayne Tinkle, who was reported to have said after the game that his instructions to his team down the stretch were "stay the hell out of [Johnson's] way."

On the decisive possession, on-ball defender Franklin Session hounded Johnson across half court. When Montana's Brian Qvale set a high screen, Weber State center Trevor Morris hedged out and stopped Johnson's dribble until Session could recover. Johnson then dribbled right and pushed past Session, only for Weber's Nick Hanson to flash from the corner and quickly show before recovering to his man. That gave Johnson just the sliver of room he needed to squeeze off a final, high-arcing, leg-kicking shot.

GOOD! JUMPER by JOHNSON, Anthony

When the dagger went in, ESPN color analyst Bob Valvano (whose family knows a thing or two about miracle shots) bellowed, "Unbelievable! He's like, the old boxer ... he'll take on any man in the house!" That assessment of the former dishwasher who landed at Montana as part of a combo deal with his wife, who played for the women's team, was spot on. Forty-two points, including 34 in the second half. It was individual brilliance and guts, personified.

(You can watch the highlights here.)

The problem with being Cinderella, though, is that the magic doesn't last overnight. In Montana's five-point NCAA tournament loss to No. 3 seed New Mexico, Johnson shot just 1-for-12 from the field.

"I was disappointed for them," Rahe said. "You could see it in Johnson's face during the game. He came off a career night and wanted to back it up and it didn't happen for him."

Rahe chuckled when he was asked whether he ever thought about why Johnson couldn't have had that kind of off-night in the title game against his Wildcats.

"That's run through my head many times," he said. "But it is what it is and hopefully we'll get stronger because of it."

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