Student Sports FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy makes its statement for a second consecutive top-ranking and mythical national title with a 71-62 victory over No. 6 Oak Hill Academy in the Dick’s Nationals title game at Madison Square Garden. The top spot in next week’s Student Sports FAB 50 comes down to the Eagles or Mater Dei of California, which did not compete in the tournament.
Related: Semifinal Analysis | Quarterfinal Analysis | Dick’s Nationals Team & Individual Records | No. 1 Seed Montverde Academy | No. 2 Seed Rainier Beach | No. 3 Seed Northside Christian Academy | No. 4 Huntington-St. Joseph Prep | No. 6 Seed Oak Hill Academy | No. 7 Seed Findlay Prep | No. 8 Seed The Sagemont School | Dick’s Nationals Field Set
The pressure was on for the boys basketball team at Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) because of the high expectations this season. The Eagles started the season ranked No. 1 in the Student Sports FAB 50 and had one of the nation’s toughest schedules to navigate through. They lost the No. 1 ranking after losing to Curie (Chicago) at the Hoophall Classic and gained it back after Curie lost in the Illinois state playoffs — not when Curie was forced to forfeit all of its season wins.
Even though D’Angelo Russell and his Montverde Academy teammates felt like the loss to Curie was always “a loss,” Montverde Academy made a statement for its second consecutive FAB 50 No. 1 finish with a big second quarter in its 71-62 victory over FAB 50 No. 6 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in the Dick’s Nationals title game Saturday morning at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Oak Hill Academy (41-4) lost in third title game in the prestigious tournament, while Montverde Academy won its second consecutive title game in its third straight year in the finals. Oak Hill Academy, looking for its first title in the event, took a 10-4 lead but did not score in the last 4:50 of first quarter. Oak Hill’s struggles continued in the second quarter, as it could not get clean looks in its half court offense and struggled to keep Montverde Academy (27-1*) from scoring around the basket.
The Warriors had trouble slowing down Montverde Academy’s Ben Simmons, a talented 6-foot-9 forward who was named tournament MVP with a 24-point, 12-rebound and 5-assist performance. Back-to-back dunks by Simmons capped a 15-4 Montverde run that gave the Eagles a 39-23 lead. Coach Kevin Boyle’s club led 42-25 at halftime, as it shot 53 percent (17-of-32) from the field compared to 35 percent (8-for-23) for Oak Hill.
Montverde Academy got its lead to as big as 25 points (53-28) with 4:26 to go in the third quarter, but whenever Oak Hill Academy made a push, the Eagles would come through with a clutch bucket or a defensive stop in the half court. Despite missing two point guards that it had on its roster earlier this season, Montverde Academy handled Oak Hill’s size and vaunted zone defense well enough keep Oak Hill from going on a big run. Montverde had 17 turnovers to Oak Hill’s 16.
Oak Hill had some fight and made a game of it in the last 10 minutes. Caleb Martin’s steal and breakaway dunk made the score 59-48 with 6:07 remaining in the game. A Oak Hill 10-0 run cut its deficit to 57-50, but the Warriors could get no closer in the final minutes. As much as Simmons and McDonald’s All-American Russell (16 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) hurt Oak Hill, Justin Bibbs and Chris Egi made clutch play for the winners.
Bibbs hit a big 3-pointer in the second quarter and a field goal at the third quarter buzzer to slow down Oak Hill’s momentum. Bibbs finished with 17 points, three assists, and three blocked shots. Egi clogged up the lane for Montverde and kept Oak Hill from getting easy looks around the basket. He finished with eight points, five rebounds and four blocks.
Martin was one of four double-digit scorers for Oak Hill. Junior guard Terrence Phillips netted 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Caleb’s twin brother Cody Martin finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds while B.J. Stith added 11 points for a team that shot 35 percent (22-of-63) from the field.
For Boyle, who is now 611-134 all-time after three years at Montverde Academy and previously coaching at St. Patrick’s (Elizabeth, N.J.), has now won the big games for two consecutive years after missing out on a couple national titles at St. Patrick because of untimely losses.
Saturday morning’s championship game was a statement win over a talented Oak Hill Academy club, but the loss to Curie opened to the door for Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) to legitimately claim the final No. 1 ranking. Mater Dei did not lose a game and won its fourth consecutive California state title in the highest classification against some talented and FAB 50-ranked teams down the stretch. Mater Dei, however, didn’t win a tournament with a stacked field such as a the City of Palms Classic (as Montverde Academy did) nor was it able to participate in the Dick’s Nationals. If the Monarchs were able to, they surely would have participated as coach Gary McKnight said after winning the state title in Sacramento a week ago.
Regardless of which team finishes No. 1 in the final Student Sports FAB 50, there is no doubting Montverde Academy’s statement with its three wins in New York nor the national championship resume of both teams.
2014 Dick’s Nationals All-Tournament Team:
Ben Simmons, Montverde, MVP
Justin Bibbs, Montverde
Caleb Martin, Oak Hill
JaQuan Lyle, Huntington Prep
Kelly Oubre, Findlay Prep