18Yates Johnson Terry Sanford basketball Senior leadership, togetherness and a commitment to zone defense helped carry Terry Sanford’s boys to a share of the Patriot Athletic Conference regular-season title with Overhills last year.

For a repeat to occur in 2018-19, head coach Darren Corbett is going to have to find some new faces as graduation hit his Bulldogs hard.

“We are leaning heavily on Yates Johnson,’’ Corbett said. “Yates is a rising junior who started every game last year but one.’’

Johnson was the Bulldogs’ third-leading scorer last year behind departed starters Gabe Hardison and Holt Walker, averaging 9.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and hitting 24 3-point goals.

A newcomer will be Northwood Temple transfer Jay Hickman, like Johnson a junior. He’ll join a couple of returnees from last season, Dante Bowlding and D.J. Herz.

Corbett said Hickman, a 6-foot-1-inch guard, has gotten interest from some Division I schools including East Carolina.

Corbett expects Johnson to score a few more points this season but won’t be calling on him to carry the entire load.

“He’s a big asset to us as far as his intensity level and work ethic he brings every day,’’ Corbett said.

Johnson said he’s worked on his 3-point shooting and finishing at the rim. “I need to be a leader like I was last year, just in a bigger role,’’ he said.

Corbett expects Westover and Overhills to provide major challenges again this season. “Pine Forest was really good last year and Cape Fear is good as well,’’ he said. “If we can establish ourselves early, we can be competitive.’’

Photo: Yates Johnson

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