Well-traveled Oak Hill squeaks by in Greensboro
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- In the main event of the 6th Annual MLK North Carolina Scholastic Classic on Monday at the frigid Greensboro Coliseum, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) upped its season record to 20-3 with a hard-fought 71-68 win over tall and talented Christ School (Arden, N.C.).
As usual, Oak Hill was led by the nation's top player, Arizona signee 6-2 PG Brandon Jennings with 38 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals.
Coach David Gaines' Christ School (20-2), unquestionably the best high school team in North Carolina, featured Stanford recruit 6-10 PF Miles Plumlee with 23 points and 10 rebounds; his younger brother 6-11 Jr. C/F Mason Plumlee with 14 points and 16 rebounds; and muscular athlete, 6-5, 215-pound Jr. G/F Lakeem Jackson with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
It really came down to which team made their free throws at the end. Christ School missed some crucial attempts, which proved costly. However, leading 71-68 with 15.6 seconds left, Oak Hill's 6-4 sophomore guard Byron Allen missed two free throws. Miles Plumlee grabbed the rebound and passed it down court to teammate 6-6 Jr. G/F Dee Giger. However, the lightning-quick Jennings swatted the ball away before Giger could get a final shot, sealing the victory.
Other key players for Oak Hill were 6-2 sophomore PG Pe'Shon Howard with 12 points (5-8 FG) and 5 assists; rapidly developing 6-8 junior forward Glenn Bryant with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks; and gigantic 6-9 junior center Keith "Tiny" Gallon with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Oak Hill arrived at the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday at 3 p.m. after flying from Bradley Airport in South Windsor, Conn. It had experienced another close encounter against Mt. St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.), winning 73-70 on Sunday at the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass. Then, it had to suit up and play a most formidable opponent with virtually no rest at 4:30 p.m.
Coach Steve Smith's Warriors do get some down time this week since their next game is on Friday, January 25, in Bristol, Va., against The Miller School (Charlottesville, Va.).
In other MLK Classic action, unsigned senior 6-8 PF Kendall Smith made two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining to seal a 57-54 upset win for Glenn High (Kernersville, N.C.) against favored Charlotte (N.C.) Christian School. Smith finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Unsigned senior 6-2 2G Anton Jones also had 12 points for Glenn.
Talented junior, 6-6 WF Willis Hall was impressive for Charlotte Christian scoring 22 points and grabbing 9 boards. Liberty signee 6-1 combo guard Seth Curry had 17 points and 6-2 Jr. 2G Carson Sullivan added 12 points for coach Shonn Brown's Charlotte Christian team.
In a clash of local schools Greensboro Day School (21-2) held off a very scrappy Page High (Greensboro, N.C.) team 51-47. In what was expected to be a matchup of promising junior bigmen, Greensboro Day's 6-9 center Javan Mitchell prevailed over Page center 6-8 Julius Brooks. Mitchell tallied 12 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks while Brooks had 4 points, 5 rebounds and one block.
Other standouts for Greensboro Day were 6-1 sophomore guard Brandon Dorsett with 9 points and tenacious floorleader 5-10 Jr. PG Christian Pulliam with 7 points, 6 assists and 3 steals. The top players for Page were 6-3 sophomore 2G Deonte Maddox with 14 points and athletic 6-3 senior 2G Luqman Tijani with 9 points.
Coach Rusty LaRue relied upon eighth grade phenom, 5-7, 125-pound PG Tyler Lewis to lead his Forsyth Country Day (Lewisville, N.C.) team to a 64-53 victory over arch-rival Calvary Baptist Day (Winston-Salem, N.C.). The precocious Lewis had an unbelievable performance for a point guard so young and small, showing no fear or lack of confidence and leading all scorers with 19 points. He made 4-6 FG, including 2-3 three-pointers, 9-10 free throws and dished out 5 assists. Aggressive 6-4 sophomore G/F Marcus Sink had 13 points and 7 rebounds for Forsyth Country Day.
The leader for Calvary Baptist was unsigned senior 6-4 G/F Carter Cook, who was coming back from a viral infection and not at 100 percent. Cook still had 14 points and 6-4 senior 2G Jack Rooney added 13.
In the finale Mount Zion Christian (Durham, N.C.) behind highly-rated junior 6-8 P/WF Karron Johnson with 19 points beat Northern Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.) 77-64. 6-0 senior PG Justin Leemow had 13 points for the victors.
Northern Guilford, a new school just opened this year, consists entirely of sophomores and freshmen but competed well with the much more mature Mount Zion team. Standouts for Northern Guilford were 6-1 freshman 1/2G Michael Neal with 21 points; 6-6 freshman PF Jacob Lawson with 15 points and 11 rebounds; and 6-4 sophomore G/F Jonathan Frye with 15 points.
• This event attracted a large number of college coaches, mostly here for the Christ School-Oak Hill Academy game. Head coaches in attendance included Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Dino Gaudio (Wake Forest), Trent Johnson (Stanford), Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Bobby Cremins (College of Charleston) and Tommy Amaker (Harvard). We observed assistant coaches from Duke, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Stanford, Western Kentucky, William & Mary, UNC-Greensboro, College of Charleston, VMI, High Point, Elon, South Carolina Upstate, Radford and Gardner-Webb.
• Will it be "all in the family"? As in will 2009 standout 6-11 C/F Mason Plumlee, join his older brother 6-10 senior Miles Plumlee and play for coach Trent Johnson at Stanford? The Plumlees attend Christ School in Arden, N.C. but are residents of Winona Lake, Ind. They have a younger brother, 6-8 freshman center Marshall Plumlee, who is still growing and is a true low post player. According to Christ School coach David Gaines, Marshall has the potential to become the best of the three, which is saying a lot. On hand to watch Mason were representatives from Stanford, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Wake Forest, Duke, Notre Dame, Harvard and others.
• Tournament director Jeremy Treatman really needs to have a more national field. I still recall the 2003 MLK Classic with featured St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) and superstar LeBron James matched against R. J. Reynolds (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Reyshawn Terry. Although James was in a class by himself, that was a truly classic game.
The Oak Hill-Christ Church matchup was excellent. However, the event needs to attract more teams from outside the Greensboro-Triad area and should feature the top teams in North Carolina against formidable out-of-state opponents.
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports Report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag.