Injuries created some holes.
Foul trouble created others.
Fortunately for Rancocas Valley, senior swingman Kenny Johnson is a versatile handyman who has a knack for patching over problems.
Johnson did a little bit of everything as Rancocas Valley scored a 60-52 victory over Willingboro on Tuesday night in a clash of Burlington County League boys' basketball powers.
The 6-foot-3 Johnson scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds, had three steals, dished three assists, and took three charges for the Red Devils, the No. 2 team in South Jersey in The Inquirer Top 10.
Junior guard Tariq Jett collected 10 points and six assists and senior guard Kalee Marshall scored 16 for Rancocas Valley (2-0).
"We don't have our full team, so everyboby has to step up," Johnson said. "I'm a captain this year, and I feel like my role is to do whatever I can to help the team, whether it's score, rebound, play defense."
Junior guard Terrell Maloney scored 18 for Willingboro (2-1).
The Chimeras used their height advantage to dominate on the backboards but were hurt by free-throw shooting. They were just 13 for 30 from the foul line.
"You lose by eight and you miss 17 free throws, that's a tough pill to swallow," Willingboro coach Jeff Haddock said.
This was a fast-paced, physical game before a near-capacity crowd in Rancocas Valley's gym, with lots of end-to-end action and lots of fouls.
"It's a rivalry game, always action-packed," Johnson said. "They come out with a lot of emotion. We come out with a lot of emotion."
Rancocas Valley used a small, quick lineup - at times, the Red Devils had Johnson, the 6-foot Jett, and three 5-foot-11 guards on the floor - to pressure Willingboro on the perimeter and generate a transition game.
"We had a little bit of a patchwork lineup," Rancocas Valley coach Jay Flanagan said. "But as long we we play defense, we should be right there."
Rancocas Valley is missing two projected starters in 6-foot-1 shooting guard Elijah Burley and 6-foot-4 forward Kareem Jones.
Burley, who has a broken wrist, is likely out until the middle of January, if not longer. Jones, who has a sprained ankle, should be back much sooner.
"We knew they were short, but they were scrappy as always," Haddock said.
Johnson's three-point jumper gave Rancocas Valley a 28-20 lead at halftime. Johnson hit another three-pointer on the first possession of the second half.
Marshall added a three-pointer and a couple of layups off transition as the Red Devils stretched their advantage to 40-23.
"I always tell the team the most important part of the game is the first three minutes of the second half," Flanagan said.
Johnson scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter but was just 4 for 9 from the foul line. For the game, Johnson was 7 for 14 and Rancocas Valley was 12 for 28.
"We definitely need to work on that," Johnson said.
Willingboro 10 10 15 17 – 52
Rancocas Valley 15 13 19 13 – 60
W: Maurice Counts 7, Dominic Cain 5, Shahaad Crowley 3, Kyle George 4, Terrell Maloney 18, Mike Owens 6, Noah Taylor 8, Rashoun Houston 1.
RV: Tariq Jett 10, Kenny Johnson 21, Dom Twitty 7, Kalee Marshall 16, Erik Collins 2, Dom Dooley 4.