Carson Johnson is poised to have a big senior season for the Ankeny boys’ basketball team.
Whether or not that translates into a huge campaign for the Hawks remains to be seen.
Johnson poured in a career-high 35 points on Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough as Ankeny dropped an 83-73 decision at Waukee in a CIML Conference game. It was the season opener for both squads.
“They’re a good team, and we knew that going in,” Johnson said of the Warriors. “They get up and down (the court) and shoot the ball really well. That’s what we prepared for. We just needed to execute better.”
Johnson made 13-of-25 shots from the field, including 3-of-8 attempts from 3-point range. He made a step-back trey with 50 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Hawks a 53-49 lead, their largest of the game.
“He’s a stud. He just really is,” Ankeny coach Brandt Carlson said of Johnson. “He just has such a big heart. He was guarding (Mason) Costello too, so they kind of went at it. He’s going to be a catalyst for us all year.”
Costello led four Waukee players in double figures with 20 points. He scored a basket to pull the Warriors within 53-51 at the end of the third quarter, then erupted for 10 points in the first 2 minutes 23 seconds of the final period.
Costello made a trio of 3-pointers during that stretch, including one that he converted into a rare 4-point play after being fouled by Johnson. It gave Waukee a 66-57 advantage with 5:37 remaining.
Johnson answered with a 3-point play less than a minute later, but that was as close as the Hawks could get.
“He’s a good player. I really respect him,” Johnson said of Costello. “I know how good he is. We just had fun going at it tonight.”
Jaden Rogers had 17 points and four blocks for the Warriors. Evan Jacobson scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, Jai White chipped in 12, and Owen Schipper added nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Keysean Moore dished out five assists for Waukee, which shot 51.7 percent from the field (31-of-60). The Warriors also outrebounded Ankeny by a 40-29 margin.
“They’re really good, and they’ve got a lot of good players,” Carlson said. “They shot it pretty well in the fourth (quarter) especially, and Costello played some high-level ball like he’s capable of.”
Ankeny sophomore Rio Aguirre scored 12 points in his varsity debut. He also had six rebounds and three assists.
Dylan Gloviak contributed seven points off the bench, all of them in the first half. Cade Pederson had three steals.
“It was good for us to be in a good game. We showed we can score,” Carlson said. “We just have to see if we can stop somebody and rebound. It was a fun game, and there’s a lot to learn from it.”
Jacobson scored 11 of his points in the first half as Waukee took a 32-28 lead. The Hawks trailed by as many as 10 points before closing out the second quarter with a 14-8 run.
Johnson banked in a shot with 2 seconds left in the half, then poured in 13 points in the third quarter alone. He converted a traditional 3-point play with 2:57 left in the period to give Ankeny its first lead of the game, 45-43.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of work,” Johnson said. “It was just coming to me, and it ended up being a good game.”
There were three lead changes and two ties before Deion Kinnetz-Jenkins opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to put the Warriors ahead for good.
“There were a lot of positives,” Johnson said. “We were in the game for so long. We just need to finish it stronger, but we were right there with them.”
Lio Aguirre had six points and six rebounds for the Hawks, who will travel to Johnston on Friday for another conference game. The Dragons (1-0) opened their season on Tuesday with a 51-46 win at Waukee Northwest, getting 22 points from Des Moines Lincoln transfer Trovary Cavil.
“Lio will be better once he gets his basketball legs back,” Carlson said. “Same with Luke (Anderson) and the other (football) guys. I just feel like we’ll continue to get better.”