FAB 50 No. 3 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) outlasts No. 17 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) 64-60 in its first game on California soil in eight years. For Sierra Canyon, it was a better showing and a lesson-builder for the upcoming CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs.
Related: 2015 Nike Extravaganza Results
This season has been one big learning experience for the young team from Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.). With a lineup consisting of four sophomores, the Trailblazers have took on a national schedule and fared out quite well — until last weekend’s humbling 64-47 loss to FAB 50 ranked Fairfax (Los Angeles).
The game was a wake-up call for a team that only lost one game — at the City of Palms Tournament in December — and had climbed to No. 7 in the latest Grassroots FAB 50 national rankings before Fairfax outplayed them.
On Friday at the Nike Extravaganza, Sierra Canyon had its toughest test of the regular season — a matchup with national power Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), which entered the game No. 3 in the FAB 50 with a squad some pollsters feel is the nation’s best. Sierra Canyon had to perform much better against Oak Hill than it did against Sierra Canyon in order to win on Friday — primarily in the areas of taking care of the ball and perimeter shooting. Sierra Canyon did just that, but Oak Hill made just enough plays to hang on to the victory.
The catalyst of Oak Hill’s 64-60 victory was McDonald’s All-American Dwayne Bacon, who made 10-of-16 field goal attempts and finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Bacon is pegged as a top 10 national prospect by the Hoop Scoop and was the best player on the floor at critical moments of the game.
Sierra Canyon (18-3) got a big game inside from Cody Riley, who finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds. More importantly, he gave the Trailblazers a presence and inside muscle to let the Warriors know early they had a game on their hands.
“The best thing we learned from the Fairfax game is we have to play with a chip on our shoulder,” Riley said. “Today we stayed together and we don’t back down, they just made more shots. We just came up short and they (Fairfax and Oak Hill) both are good teams.”
The game came down to free throws, and execution, and Oak Hill Academy (35-1 on-court) was a bit better down the stretch in those areas. With Oak Hill leading 60-59, senior point guard Terrence Phillips (the younger brother of 2008 Mr. Basketball USA pick Brandon Jennings of Oak Hill), was fouled with 19.9 seconds to go. He made both free throws to make the score 62-59.
Sierra Canyon set up to potentially tie the game, but after a timeout Oak Hill fouled Sierra Canyon’s Devearl Ramsey 45 feet from the basket so he or a teammate wouldn’t get a 3-point look. The strategy worked, as Ramsey made one of two free throws. On the second attempt, Oak Hill’s Daniel Giddens was fouled with 3.3 seconds to go. The Oak Hill center missed the front end of a one-and-one situation, but Sierra Canyon couldn’t secure the rebound and the game was over.
Sierra Canyon needed better guard play to stay in this game than it got against Fairfax and got it from Ramsey. The 5-foot-9 junior made 3-of-6 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 21 points. Sophomore Adam Seiko also hit to two late 3-pointers to keep Sierra Canyon within range.
Sierra Canyon coach Ty Nichols stated his team learned plenty from the Fairfax loss and would have done some things differently regarding game preparation, but was proud of the way his team responded this past week. He also had high praise for Oak Hill.
“That Fairfax game was a great lesson and it’s good to see a group of young guys get the credit they deserve for playing the teams they have,” Nichols said. “Oak Hill Academy is the No. 1 team in the country, Montverde Academy is No. 2 and after that there’s some very good teams.”
Giddens finished with 7 points and 10 rebounds for Oak Hill Academy, which is technically unbeaten but lost to No. 2 Hamilton (Memphis, Tenn) on the court and also trails top-ranked Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in the FAB 50. Senior forward Joe Hampton (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Phillips (10 points, five rebounds, five assists) also hit double figures for a club looking to capture its eighth mythical FAB 50 national title this season.
On Saturday night, Oak Hill Academy will face No. 5 Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) in the second game of its key West Coast swing.
“We’re trying to come out every game to win,” said Bacon, who is headed to play for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State. “This is our most important weekend of the season coming out to the Nike Extravaganza. We’re trying to be that No. 1 team and show it to people who think we aren’t.”