FORKS — Senior point guard Seth Johnson has been piling up stats in all manner of categories for the Evergreen League-champion Forks Spartans boys basketball team.
Just don’t ask Johnson to recite his stat line — he doesn’t know and he’s not bothered to ask — a trait shared by the senior-laden Forks squad (16-4), which opens Class 1A Southwest District 4 play at home tonight against Trico No. 4 Stevenson (9-12) at 7 p.m.
Head coach Rick Gooding made the call this season to not print out statistical breakdowns after each game and provide them to his team as they broke down film together as he had in previous seasons.
“Not one kid on our team so far this year has asked about wanting to see stats or know how many points they are averaging,” Gooding said.
“It is awesome.”
It’s part and parcel of Forks’ role-embracing, all-for-one, one-for-all ethos this season — and Johnson has been instrumental in the Spartans’ success.
He shoots, he scores
While Johnson looks to set up his teammates for open looks first and foremost, his shot chart is carpeted with green like moss covers timber.
He’s hitting on 60 percent of 2-point shots (84 of 140), and hitting 42 percent from beyond the 3-point line (22 of 52) for an overall 55 percent shooting percentage from the floor.
A first-team all-league pick last season, the 5-foot-9 Johnson is averaging 14.3 points, 6.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game thus far.
“I don’t know how much he weighs soaking wet, but he just sees it [the game],” Gooding said. “He’s a hard-working, scrappy kid that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him dog tired on the court. He has so much energy for us and every one of his teammates trusts him.”
Gooding said Johnson has a knack for making a big play at the right time.
“Some kids just kind of have that sense of knowing what they have to do,” Gooding said. “When we are in a bad spot offensively, he knows to get to the rack for a bucket or to find an open teammate. He knows to get a hand on a pass, get a deflection and a steal.
“He just kind of orchestrates everything. Offensively, defensively, in the press, in the zone.”
Ask Johnson where he shines and he points to his passing.
“I think I’m best at getting my teammates open, driving in and setting up people for shots,” Johnson said. “Defensively, I like to pick up my man early at halfcourt and swarm them. Get my hands on loose balls and tips. Be disruptive.”
Forks has shown its grit multiple times this season — coming from 24 points down to beat Vashon 70-69 at a holiday tournament and rallying in a must-win road game to edge Montesano and Gooding knows he can rely on Johnson and the Spartans’ veterans down the stretch.
“In tough situations, I don’t always have to call timeout,” Gooding said. “I know they will gather, regroup, and get a good shot or a stop defensively.
“I want to see them work their way through it because a player-led team can be great, but a coach-led team can be good.”
Johnson credits having played together with his fellow seniors since an early age for the trust between Spartans players and coaches.
“I trust my teammates completely with everything,” Johnson said. “I know we don’t have one certain guy, if a guy has the ball I know and trust they can make a play.
“It’s easy to flow together because we’ve played together so long.”
“[Coach Gooding] knows we have been around the game and he trusts us in the situation. I think Cort Prose and I do a good job of controlling our emotions and to keep playing through in tough situations.”
Johnson also pointed to Forks’ difficult nonleague schedule as part of the team’s growth this season.
“Our nonleague schedule really challenged us this year,” Johnson said. “Our first game was against Aberdeen, then we went to Tumwater. We got a nice boost from the Leavenworth tourney, we came off a big win and came back from being down 24, so that showed us we are always capable and it helped us build momentum and get ready for league play.”
A win tonight would be a big step as Forks begins its bid to reach the state basketball tournament for the first time since 2006.
“I’ve been loving every second of it, every hard practice every game, everybody getting after it,” Johnson said of his senior season. “We know our potential and we want to work extra hard every day to try and reach it.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]