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Basketball: Hot-handed Johnson passes up father in career points

Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta senior Jaret Johnson, left, recently passed up his father, Matt Johnson, right, in career points. Matt played for the Morris Tigers for two seasons and tallied 723 points. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times1 / 2
This photo taken from the 1979 Morris High School yearbook shows Matt Johnson (No. 50 in back row) as a junior on the Morris High School boys basketball team. His son Jaret also sports the same number.2 / 2

At the start of the season, Morris Area senior Jaret Johnson was just 49 points away from the career points total of his father, Matt Johnson, who played for the Morris Tigers from 1978 to 1980 and accumulated 723 career points in those two seasons.

After dropping 29 points for the Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta boys basketball team in the season opening win at Ortonville on Nov. 30, the senior was certain he was going to pass his father up on the leaderboard sooner rather than later.

"I definitely knew that I was close," Jaret said of passing his father's career points total. "It was definitely a special moment in my career because I always looked up to my dad as a role model and basketball player."

Through seven games to start the season, Johnson has averaged 15.4 points per game, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He recorded double-digit points five times and over 20 points three times. Johnson is shooting at a 54 percent clip from the field, second highest on the team to freshman Jackson Loge, and is shooting 34 percent from three-point range, second highest on the team to junior Eli Grove who is 1-for-2 from beyond the arc this season.

"Jaret knows that he needs to be one of the leaders, not just with scoring and boards," Matt said of his son's start to the season. "There are so many other aspects to the game that are important to being a good teammate and to help attain the team's goals."

Jaret started the season with 674 career points. He tied his dad's career total of 723 after he scored 11 points in the 79-61 loss to BOLD Dec. 7, in Olivia, and surpassed it with his first score against New London-Spicer Dec. 13, in Morris.

"I thought I passed him against Montevideo a week later. I came home after that game and told my dad 'I think I finally passed you'," Jaret said. "(My dad) was super proud of me and he said he knew the day would come and I'm just glad it did."

"It's special to me because I know how hard he's worked on his game all his life," Matt said. "He is having as much fun playing the game as I did."

But back in Matt's playing days, there was no three-point line. Jaret currently has 81 made threes in his career, that's 243 points from threes.

"Our joke was that if he had the three-point line like I do it would have been a different story," Jaret said.

"Given the type of game we played back in the 70s, I played the center position and really wasn't supposed to stray very far from the paint," Matt said. "The three-point shot has really changed the game, stretched offenses out. Mid-range shots are really a thing of the past and three-point shooters are now an important part of the game."

Jaret said he has learned a lot about basketball from his father.

"My dad was a big influence on me, and he always wanted me active, so I was in basketball at a young age," Jaret said. "My dad and Camden (Arndt's) dad Scott coached us all the way through elementary school. The positive experience they gave us, and the fun we had with them sparked my love of basketball. He taught me a lot of the fundamentals in the backyard like boxing out, shot form, dribbling... When we would watch basketball together, he'd always point out different things I could learn from guys in the NBA like Kevin Love or Kevin Garnett."

His father didn't teach him that hook shot, though.

"The hook shot that he pulls out from time-to-time is of his own design," Matt said. "Although we have thrown up a variety of different types of shots while shooting hoops in our driveway. We played a lot of hoops in the driveway over the years."

"I have to thank Camden and the game of HORSE for that hook shot," Jaret said. "Cam could always outshoot me, but that hook shot was my bread and butter, and that just translated into my actual game and has proven to be effective."

Despite the hook shot advantage for Jaret, Matt said he would still have the edge in a game of one-on-one in the backyard.

"I would definitely win as long as I didn't foul out," Matt said.

Jaret plans to play either football or basketball in college, but for now, he looks to keep his hot start to the basketball season rolling into 2019. He wants to help lead the team to more wins and hopefully a deep playoff run come March.

"This season has been a ton of fun, all the guys are great... I'm not too interested in personal stats. I'm more interested in the team winning and losing," Jaret said, adding that he'll do whatever it takes, whether he is the one scoring or not, to help the team win.

Brooke Kern

Please send sports story ideas, photo submissions, and comments to bkern@stevenscountytimes.com.

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