Two-time Terryville basketball co-captain Joanna Johnson and Bristol Central wrestler Andrew Cercone share “Athlete of the Week” (AOW) honors with regards to area scholastic sports.
Johnson, the daughter of Karen and Joseph Johnson of Terryville, has been the two-year team leader for the Kangaroos along with last week’s female “AOW” pick and fellow senior Zoe Jabs.
The Kangaroos are 4-14 on the season, but despite the losses remain close to one another, as attested by Jabs last week.
First-year varsity coach Tom Morgan has only kind words for his co-captain.
“She has played four years and was more of a shooting guard in the past, but since we also have McKenzie Huria and Makayla Descault as shooting guards, Jo has been the primary point guard this season. She shoots less and instead sets up the offense. She averages about 7.5 points a game and three assists. She is still a three-point shooter, though, and has 22 threes through the first 18 games.
“Although she is a quiet girl, she has been a good leader and team co-captain. She seems to be comfortable this season as a playmaker, not needing to take as much responsibility for scoring. It’s worked out better as the season has progressed as overall the team is scoring a few more points per game. She is a good athlete, who did well in soccer this year, and it’s been my pleasure to coach her the past four seasons in basketball.”
Although this is Morgan’s first year as varsity coach, he’s by no way new to the team in having been the assistant coach under Damian Coggshall, who stepped down after last season. Morgan knew coming in he had the two seasoned co-captains, as well as Descault and McKenzie Huria, the team’s leading point-maker this season, to build around.
Besides being a standout in basketball, Johnson teamed with schoolmates Jabs, All-Stater Jenna Covello, and Makayla Descault to earn All-Press in soccer this past fall as an all-around solid athlete. The Terryville players filled four of the 12 positions on the team. Johnson had nine goals and 10 assists on the season prompting Terryville soccer coach Brian Rosano to praise her.
“Joanna has been the top playmaker on our team for four years,” Rosano said. “As her assists totals show, she has great vision and feel for the game, and is an excellent technical player. Her toughness, physicality, and awareness were vital to her success as a defensive midfielder, as well as to the success of the team.”
In addition to basketball and soccer, Johnson was on the track team her first two years at school before joining the softball team last season.
Cercone, the son of Dawn and former Bristol Central wrestling captain Jaeson Cercone, is a junior at Bristol Eastern who wrestles as a heavyweight for the undefeated Lancers, 19-0 during the regular season. He carries an overall record of 13-5 and that’s after returning from a concussion and beating his Bristol Central opponent on Wednesday and going 2-3 in Saturday’s CCC Invitational in Berlin. His pin on Saturday against Platt’s Nick Martone was one of meet’s highlights.
Martone had the size differential over Cercone and was on top at a couple of points in the match, but each time Cercone reversed it with his patented jellyroll. The first time it happened, it looked as though Cercone was close to a pin before the Eastern grappler was able to finish off his Platt opponent in that manner the second time around. Cercone fist-pumped after the referee’s arm hit the mat as his coaches and teammates erupted over the win.
“Martone is probably the favorite to win the Class M’s and one of the favorites to place in the open,” Bristol Eastern coach Bryant Lishness said. “But our smaller ‘light heavyweight’ got the stick and that was pretty impressive. Andrew always puts himself in positions to succeed so it wasn’t too surprising.”
As far as Cercone is concerned, it was a good overall meet, especially with the Martone victory.
“I did pretty well,” Cercone said. “He was ranked No. 1 in Class M and is supposed to place at the State Open. At first I was nervous, but once I got out there I did my best.”
He was also pleased with his performance against crosstown rival Bristol Central, because it was his first match after missing three three in a row.
“I pinned him in the first period with a headlock,” Cercone said. “It’s always good to beat your Bristol Central rival. I thought I did well in just coming back (from the concussion.)”
Using Saturday’s competition in honing his skills, Cercone is looking forward to the Class L meet, and like every solid high school grappler, hopes the State Open follows.
“My goal is to place in the State Open and the Class L meet, and for our team to do well,” Cercone said. “The top six at the Class L meet qualify for the State Open. This is my first year on varsity and it’s nice being on the (state’s) No. 3 ranked team.”
He added that he appreciates his two wrestling partners on the team, Ethan Mathieu and Hydekel Mangual, who have helped prepare him along the way.
In addition to wrestling, Cercone also plays football for the Rams. When asked which was his favorite sports to play, he said he liked both equally.
“It’s fun to be there with teammates,” Cercone said. “It’s like being family and we have great coaches. Playing sports teaches you a lot of discipline and how to get through things in life.”
Contact Bob Montgomery at email@example.com.