Niya Johnson is a Gainesville legend when it comes to girls basketball in the city.
The former McDonald's All-American won two state titles at P.K. Yonge. She won a national title at Baylor University, where she was drafted and played in the WNBA.
She summed up her time with the Blue Wave in two words.
“Glory days,” she said. “I enjoyed everyone that was on the team for those four years. It was fun.”
Johnson cemented her legacy on senior night back in January of 2012.
P.K. Yonge knocked off Class 7A No. 1 Buchholz that night as Johnson scored 17 of her season-high 49 points in the 85-77 upset of the Bobcats.
“Every day I think about the time we played Buchholz,” she said. “The time it was fun. It was very energized.”
P.K. Yonge would go on to win the Class 3A state title that year.
Buchholz won it the next year, in 2013. That was also last the time the Lady Bobcats won a district title.
Until now, in Johnson’s first season as head coach.
Against the Tigers in last Friday’s championship, the Bobcats (14-4) went on a 21-0 run to take a double-digit lead after trailing by double digits.
“It was exciting,” she said. “Being that it was my first year it was kind of crazy how it all happened. The girls worked very hard and they deserve it.”
Johnson said having a positive mindset was the key to beating Columbia, 50-40, in the Class 6A-District 2 championship game last Friday.
That and “teamwork.”
“During midseason, that’s when it clicked,” she said. “We started playing as a team. We kept encouraging each other. It was contagious. Everyone started talking, everyone started communicating, and everybody started encouraging each other.”
Winning the district tournament means the Lady Bobcats will host a first-round playoff game tonight against Milton (16-6).
“We just have to come in focused and ready to play,” Johnson said.
Here is the lineup of other area action:
Regional Quarterfinals – Thursday, Feb. 11
Columbia (Lake City) (13-6) at Navarre (17-6)
Milton (16-6) at Buchholz (Gainesville) (14-4)
Bradford (Starke) (12-10) at The Villages (19-6)
P.K Yonge (Gainesville) (3-5) at Master's Academy (Oviedo) (14-7)
Branford (13-5) at Madison County (11-4)
Trenton (22-4) advanced via forfeit by
Fort Meade (6-6) at Hawthorne (17-4)
Williston (11-5) at Wildwood (17-3)