This year more than any other, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) coach Steve Smith firmly believes in the saying “never judge a book by its cover.” Smith said his point guard, Tyler Lewis, was “the only player I’ve ever coached that wouldn’t get picked up in an open-gym setting.”
Good thing Smith and the Warriors knew better.
Lewis scored 18 points and dished out eight assists to lead POWERADE FAB 50 No. 3 Oak Hill past No. 2 Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.), 82-78, Thursday in a nationally televised game at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led Oak Hill (17-0) with 20 points while Tony Parker led Miller Grove (6-1) with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
The frantic pace to start favored Oak Hill and its high-octane transition offense, which has averaged 94 points per game this season.
Lewis picked the usually suffocating Miller Grove defense apart, finding Jordan Adams for three 3-pointers in the first quarter. That helped Oak Hill claim a 23-20 lead early on.
The Wolverines switched to a match-up zone in the second quarter and fed Parker in the paint to keep it close. Parker dominated the Warriors’ big men with 15 points in the first half, but Lewis paced Oak Hill to a 42-36 lead at the half. Miller Grove shot a scorching 69 percent from the field before the break, but Oak Hill drained three more 3-pointers than the Wolverines.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines pulled to within one after Justin Colvin drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing with 47 seconds left. After two free throws from Lewis, Miller Grove forward Brandon Morris went 1-for-2 at the free-throw line, got his own rebound and got fouled again on the putback, putting him at the line with a chance to tie the game.
But Morris failed to convert on both free throws and the Warriors went 5-for-6 from the line down the stretch to secure the win.
The road doesn’t get any easier for either team.
Oak Hill heads to Evelyn Mack Academy (Charlotte, N.C.) on Saturday before heading off to the Chick-fil-A Classic in Columbia, S.C. Miller Grove leaves Friday for Fort Myers, Fla., where it will compete in the City of Palms Classic.
Elsewhere in the POWERADE FAB 50
The Oak Hill-Miller Grove game was one of three games televised on ESPN networks Thursday night with FAB 50 ramifications.
With its 79-64 setback to No. 15 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas), No. 42 Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, Texas) will need a big performance at the upcoming City of Palms Tournament to remain in the next set of rankings due for Dec. 27. Prestonwood (5-1) opens the loaded tournament against Constitution (Philadelphia) and the winner is likely to take on No. 6 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) in the second round.
Also last night, No. 11 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) upped its record to 14-1 with its 42-40 victory over No. 4 Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.), and the victory bodes well for No. 7 Findlay Prep (Henderson. Nev.). The Pilots beat Marcus 47-39 on Dec. 3 to snap a 42-game winning streak. Since Findlay Prep won't compete at the City of Palms and plays two winnable games this upcoming weekend, there is a chance the Pilots could climb to as high as No. 3 in the next FAB 50 depending who wins the City of Palms. In addition to Bishop Gorman, No. 5 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and No. 2 Miller Grove will be in Ft. Myers, Fla.
Miller Grove's loss Thursday night to Oak Hill bodes well for Grace Prep since its only loss so far came in a 68-59 setback to Oak Hill. Grace Prep opens at the City of Palms with No. 35 Taft (Cincinnati, Ohio) and could meet Mater Dei in the second round.
Ronnie Flores contributed to this report