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Thursday, March 5, 2009
Updated: March 6, 11:40 AM ET
Montrose Christian looks to avenge early season loss to Oak Hill

By Christopher Lawlor
ESPNRISE.com

Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) has won 43 straight games dating back to last season, including 37 this season. OHA faces one of its toughest tests of the season Friday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET) when it travels to Rockville, Md., to take on Montrose Christian. The Warriors have already beaten Montrose Christian this season -- albeit 5,000 miles away at a pre-Christmas tournament in Hawaii -- and have the depth to win again. The Warriors go eight deep and are well-coached.

Montrose Christian coach Stu Vetter is the master of controlling the tempo. His teams can run with the best of them, but the sage Vetter knows when to pull back on the reigns. The first meeting saw the teams tied at 49 after regulation.

"We could have won it [during regulation] late but didn't," Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said of the 74-62 decision. "Montrose should have won it after the first overtime; but in the second one [overtime] we took a seven-point lead and it was finally enough."

In that game, Lamont "MoMo" Jones had the hot hand, scoring 40 points and making 8-of-13 3-pointers.

"He [Jones] found some openings in transition," Smith said.

Friday's game at Georgetown Prep's Hanley Center in North Bethesda, Md., concludes the regular season in the seventh year the ESPN family of networks has broadcast the Old Spice High School Showcase presented by Nike.

The bonus coverage of the series continues April 3 for three straight days of action from the inaugural National High School Invitational. The elite tournament features eight of the nation's top high school teams, including Oak Hill and Montrose Christian, which might meet for a third time this season.

History: Vetter knows what it takes to beat Oak Hill. He's faced the Warriors at four different schools -- Montrose Christian, Flint Hill Prep (Va.), Harker Prep (Md.) and St John's-Prospect Hall (Frederick, Md.) -- and won several times. Last year, Oak Hill won the lone regular-season meeting, 59-48.

Perhaps the greatest coup of Vetter's coaching tenure at Montrose Christian against Oak Hill occurred on March 4, 2006.

"Probably the most memorable one between our schools," Smith said.

Trailing by 16 points late in the game, the Mustangs rallied for a stunning 74-72 win when then-junior Adrian Bowie's putback beat the buzzer in front of an overflow crowd of more than 4,000 at Coolidge High in Washington, D.C.

What's more amazing about the game was the talent assembled on the floor. Oak Hill's lineup included Ty Lawson (now at North Carolina), Nolan Smith (Duke), Michael Beasley (lottery pick of the Miami Heat in 2008), Jeff Allen (Virginia Tech) and Landon Milbourne (Maryland).

Vetter's squad was built around highly skilled Kevin Durant and a pair of future Maryland Terrapins, Greivis Vasquez and Bowie.

"It's unheard of when there's four NBA players on the court at the same time," Smith said.

The Mustangs' victory halted a 56-game win streak and ruined Oak Hill's perfect season (40-0 going into the game), knocking the Warriors from their top ranking.

Each possession mattered down the stretch, but many point to a key offensive foul by Beasley which swung the momentum. Taishi Ito, a Japanese-born point guard who now plays at Columbia, took a near-violent charge when Beasley barreled down the lane.

Smith said Oak Hill first met a Vetter-coached club during Smith's first year at the rural Baptist-affiliated boarding school in 1985-86. The Warriors beat Flint Hill 58-57.

"We've played at least 20 times since then," Smith said. "It's always good when you coach against Stu. I respect his coaching ability; his teams are always well-prepared."

ESPNU 100 Player Watch: Oak Hill players include 6-foot-9 Keith "Tiny" Gallon (No. 14); 6-7 Glenn Bryant (No. 34 power forward); and 6-0 Lamont "MoMo" Jones (No. 20 senior point guard). Juniors: 6-4 Doron Lamb (No. 14 in the ESPNU 60); 6-3 Pe'Shon Howard (No. 60); 6-11 Baye Moussa Keita; 6-3 Bryon Allen.

Gallon, a 6-9, 293-pound post from suburban Houston, will play for the West squad in the McDonald's All-American Game on April 1 in Miami. He is the 24th Oak Hill player to receive the honor.

Montrose Christian ESPNU 100 players are 6-9 Mouphtaou Yarou (No. 27) and 6-8 Isaiah Armwood (No. 36). Juniors: 6-6 Terrance Ross (No. 41). Freshman Justin Anderson (6-6, 180) reminds scouts of a young Josh Smith, who now plays for the Atlanta Hawks.

Anderson's Scouts Inc. recruiting profile describes his tremendous upside: "He is a specimen that is physically gifted well past his ninth grade peers. It is easy to forget that you are watching a high school freshman because of his size, skill level and athleticism. The left handed freshman with long arms and tremendous wing span&"

Key matchup: It all begins in the paint, with the Villanova-bound Yarou against Gallon, a McDonald's All-American. These hulks could determine the outcome, with Yarou needing a monster game. "We need to limit his [Yarou's] touches," Smith said. "We can't allow him to go off for 25 points or get a double-double with rebounds."

Oak Hill notes: Five players are headed to Division I schools. Here's the lineup: Gallon (Oklahoma), Jones (Virginia Tech), Keita (Syracuse), Allen (West Virginia) and Austin Alecxih (North Carolina-Asheville). … Leading scorers are Gallon (16 ppg), Bryant (10.4 ppg), Jones (13.8 ppg), Lamb (14.2 ppg) and Allen (10 ppg). … Keita hails from Senegal. He was an unknown until this fall but quickly caught the eye of recruiters, namely Syracuse, and is expected to sign with the Orange in November. … The Warriors' starting five includes three guards, Jones, Lamb and Howard, with Gallon and Bryant up front. Keita, Allen and Alecxih come off the bench.

Mustang musings: If 6-7 Terrell Vinson (No. 47 in the ESPNU 100) and 6-7 Tristan Spurlock (No. 47) did not transfer, Montrose might be sitting atop the ESPN RISE rankings. Vinson, undecided on college, plays for No. 37 St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) and Spurlock (World of Life, Springfield, Va.), is headed to Virginia. … Yarou and Armwood have signed national letters of intent to play at Villanova. Yarou, a skilled post player, hails from the Western African republic of Benin. He transferred from Massanutten Military in Woodstock, Va., after his junior year. … Expect Yarou, Armwood, Ross, point guard Micah Fraction and shooting guard Dominic Milburn to start, with Anderson, 6-7 Dadrian Collins and 5-10 Jordan Roach spelling them off the bench.

Analysis: Oak Hill loves transition and Montrose Christian's Vetter likes to control the tempo. Oak Hill has the backcourt edge with the New York City duo of Jones and Lamb pushing the ball. In the last 10 games, Lamb is averaging 20 points. Montrose might employ a junk defense, like box-and-one, to confuse Jones. Montrose has size up front, especially with Ross firing from the wings, plus the home-court advantage, with 1,200 onlookers. Bryant must get a body on Armwood, who Smith calls a "pogo stick." Expect another instant classic.

Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys' and girls' basketball. He also for worked for Scholastic Coach magazine, where he ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident, grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.