CALUMET CITY | T.F. North's Christian Johnson was challenged by coach Tim Bankston to start playing a bigger role on the boards.
Johnson has heard the message and taken it to heart.
Johnson scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Meteors to a 61-49 win over Argo in South Suburban Conference play on Tuesday.
Jaylon Kyles added 12 for T.F. North, and Sadiq Salisu scored 11, including three 3-pointers.
"Yesterday in practice, coach told me I have to play better and rebound better," Johnson said. "He said they need more out of me, and I took that to heart. I just thought about that all today, and prayed, and came out and did what he asked me to do."
With the Meteors (7-7, 4-2) nursing a four-point lead with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Johnson took an offensive rebound and dunked over three Argo players while drawing a foul. The three-point play got the crowd and the Meteors fired up.
"I thought Chris's dunk in the fourth quarter really brought us back to life," Bankston said. "We were kind of dead, and in the third quarter we took some selfish and ill-advised shots. But remember these are freshmen, sophomores and very inexperienced juniors."
T.F. North carried a 23-12 lead into the half but were outscored 22-15 in the third quarter to cut the lead to four heading into the final quarter. Johnson's presence on the offensive and defensive glass in the final quarter helped to keep the Meteors ahead the rest of the way.
"This was a big game to start believing in what they're doing," Bankston said. "They finished around the basket, which is what we've been working on in practice. Hopefully, we can continue with the positives."
Like his coach, Johnson is confident the Meteors can get on a roll the rest of the season.
"I think we can get a winning streak going," Johnson said. "We've been practicing good. We just have to keep practicing and work hard and do what coach tells us to do, because I know that worked for me."