Girls Basketball: Zion-Benton’s Tanya Johnson gets up-close look at nation’s elite

Story Image Tanya Johnson of Zion Benton coaches the girls West Team at the McDonald All American Game. Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media

Updated: March 29, 2012 7:43PM

Zion-Benton’s Tanya Johnson has coached many great players in her Hall of Fame career.

But never anything like this.

On Wednesday night, Johnson coached the West team in the McDonald’s All-American High School Girls Basketball Game that was played in Chicago.

It’s the most-prestigious prep all-star game in the nation — one that every prep strives to be invited to play in.

The last area player invited was Waukegan’s Jereme Richmond, who played in the McDonald’s boys game in 2010 in Washington DC.

On Johnson’s team Wednesday was Niles West’s Jewell Loyd, who will play next year at Notre Dame. Zion played Niles West in each of the last two seasons so Johnson was familiar with the ultra-talented guard.

Also on Johnson’s team was Bolingbrook High School’s Morgan Tuck, who will play at Connecticut next year. Tuck led Bolingbrook to the Class 4A state championship in 2011, beating Johnson’s Zee-Bees in the championship game>

On Wednesday, Johnson’s team came up a point short, losing to the East 79-78 on a free throw with less than a second to play in the game.

“I think early on, we took early shots, and (got caught up) in he magnitude of the game of the game and playing on the United Center floor,” Johnson said.

Then, talking about Tuck, she noted that “She‘s a coach’s dream. She was a monster on the boards and she just plays so hard.”

As for next year, while Johnson’s Zion-Benton team won’t have any McDonald’s All-Americans on it, the Zee-Bees are expected to be one of the best teams in the county.

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