by Jim Fenton, The Enterprise
PAXTON, Mass. ---- The twin sisters have provided a boost to the Anna Maria offense this season after playing the past two years at Massasoit Community College.
The Anna Maria College women's basketball team had a definite need heading into the 2018-19 season.
After averaging only 52.7 points per game with one double-digit scorer, the Amcats were looking for help at the offensive end.
Twin sisters from Brockton have helped fill that void, allowing Anna Maria to improve from 4-21 last season to 10-15 this season prior to Tuesday night.
Sierra Johnson and her sister, Sienna Johnson, transferred to the college in Paxton after playing the past two seasons at Massasoit Community College, where they were All-Region 21 selections.
Heading into a Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament game at Suffolk University on Tuesday, Sierra was Anna Maria's second-leading scorer, averaging 14.9 points, while Sienna was third, scoring 12 points per game.
The Amcats' scoring average has gone from 52.7 points a year ago to 60.4 points this season when they finished tied for fifth place in the GNAC at 7-5, a four-game improvement.
"I knew that they could score, which was the main reason why they ended up on our radar in the first place,″ said Anna Maria coach Kevin Bigelow. "Our teams in the last few years, that's been an issue for us. We weren't able to score, so bringing in a couple of kids who could score, that was a major priority.″
Sierra was in the starting lineup for every game, playing nearly 32 minutes and connecting on 49 percent of her shots to rank seventh in the GNAC.
"She can put the ball in the hoop,″ said Bigelow. "She's just talented offensively. She's shooting close to 50 percent on the year, and as a guard in Division 3 college basketball level, that's phenomenal.
"She's in the top 10 in our conference and everyone else above her is a post player and hasn't taken as many shots.″
While most guards are shooting 3-pointers at all levels, Sierra has attempted just 16 of them all season.
"She lives in the mid-range, which is great,″ said Bigelow. "That's kind of a lost thing, especially in women's basketball. There are not too many players who can come off a screen and make a pull-up mid-range jump shot in Division 3. She does that so incredibly well.″
At Massasoit, Sierra scored 610 points in 44 career games and made the All-Region 21 first team last season when she scored 17.9 points per game. She also contributed 5.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.2 steals.
Sienna started 15 games this season but has been coming off the bench since the Amcats added another transfer student in the second semester.
In 24 games, Sienna is averaging 27 minutes and has connected on 17 shots from 3-point range in addition to providing strong defense.
"Sienna underplayed her offensive game and said, 'Sierra's the scorer and I'm the defender,' which I don't think is totally true because Sienna can put the ball in the hoop, too,″ said Bigelow. "But she is way more aggressive on the defensive end. She's kind of a bulldog on defense.
"Sienna either gets to the hoop or shoots the three, which is where the game is trending all over the place.″
As a sophomore at Massasoit, Sienna averaged 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds to earn a spot on the All-Region 21 second team.
The Johnson sisters played sparingly while they were at Brockton High School before getting into the lineup at Massasoit as freshmen in the 2016-17 season.
While the twins have been difference makers in their first year at Anna Maria, Bigelow sees even more improvement for them when they return as seniors.
"I'm hoping they can get a lot better,″ he said. "They've already made a big difference and they're still working on parts of their game.
"The difference that they've made right away is defenses have to respect them. We've gotten more shots for others. I've got a graduate student who barely scored last year, but I knew she could shoot the ball. She just couldn't get shots. Now she's getting open shots and that's directly to having more talent out there.″