USC is losing Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and his running mate, LenDale White, to the NFL, but the sting of their early departures was lessened slightly Friday when Stafon Johnson announced he was going to be a Trojan.
One of the most sought-after tailbacks in the nation, Johnson, of Los Angeles Dorsey, is regarded as the No. 18 overall prospect in the country and the No. 2 running back by rivals.com.
He went to bed Thursday night unsure of whether he would attend USC or Georgia. "I prayed on it," he said, "and I woke up with a good feeling about USC."
Washington had been a serious contender and he had offers from Miami, Florida and UCLA.
"It's home," said Johnson (6 feet, 202 pounds), whose mother lives within 20 minutes of USC and father within five. "I fell in love with the coaches.... They did tell me they were looking hard at me, especially since LenDale and Reggie left. If I come in there and stay healthy and do what I have to do, as long as I get a chance, I think I can get the job."
Already included in USC's recruiting cache is Texas tailback Emmanuel Moody, considered the nation's No. 9 tailback prospect, and Sylmar's C.J. Gable, a running back/defensive back.
Johnson helped Dorsey (10-3) reach the City Section semifinals. He finished with 2,157 yards -- a 9.0 average -- and 22 touchdowns.
-- Martin Henderson
It wasn't the high-scoring forward who committed to Duke that put the game on his shoulders Friday night. Nor was it the 7-foot-1 center bound for Arizona, the athletic power forward who signed with UCLA or the sleek shooting guard headed for Santa Clara.
It was Kamyron Brown, a 6-1 junior point guard for Santa Ana Mater Dei who scored a career-high 19 points and helped the Monarchs, ranked No. 4 in the Southland by The Times, put a defensive stranglehold on No. 10 Santa Margarita in the fourth quarter, paving the way for a 57-47 Serra League victory at Concordia University.
Brown, who is averaging 8.5 points, fourth-best on the team, scored 12 in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the third quarter to help the Monarchs (21-2, 5-0) erase an eight-point halftime deficit. His four-point play in the opening minute of the fourth quarter gave Mater Dei its first lead, 46-45, and his blocked shot during a one-on-one fast break was the highlight of Mater Dei's defensive effort in the final quarter, when Santa Margarita's only points came on two free throws with 25 seconds left.
"I told myself, 'I can't lose this game,' " Brown said. "I brought this team together and we picked it up in the third quarter."
Mater Dei junior forward Taylor King, who committed to Duke earlier this month, had a team-high 25 points and 12 rebounds, but missed all six three-point attempts. Mater Dei junior center Alex Jacobson, who committed to Arizona, made one of seven shots and finished with three points and three rebounds.
UCLA-bound senior James Keefe of Santa Margarita (18-3, 1-3) had a team-high 22 points and 16 rebounds, but missed his only two field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter. Santa Clara-bound senior point guard Jonathan Gunderson, who made five three-point baskets and scored 17 points in a 71-65 overtime loss Jan. 11 to visiting Mater Dei, made just one of nine shots and scored five points.