The clear top two high school basketball teams in the nation, Oak Hill Academy (VA) and Montverde Academy (FL), faced off at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, and Montverde Academy emerged as the champion. The title was the Eagles third consecutive DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals championship. Montverde Academy won 70 to 61 over Oak Hill Academy.
Oak Hill Academy started off on a good foot, and kept Montverde Academy at bay in the first half, as the Warriors always maintained a cushion of a handful of points. At half-time, Oak Hill Academy held a 33-26 lead. Montverde Academy charged back in the second half and took the lead midway through the third quarter, which they would not relinquish.
The previously No. 1 and undefeated Oak Hill Academy squad cut Montverde Academy’s lead to 3 points with 40 seconds left, as Montverde Academy held a 63-60 lead.
While LSU-bound senior Ben Simmons typically draws most of the attention for the Eagles, it was unsung senior guard Fard Muhammad, a 6′-0″ guard, who excelled in key moments championship game and ultimately spurred Montverde Academy to take the lead. He was part of Montverde’s 3rd quarter spurt and demonstrated his long-range shooting touch in hitting 5 important 3-pointers. Muhammad finished with 20 points.
Simmons was hampered by a poked eye early in the game, but his teammates picked up the slack for him, including big man Noah Dickerson (who did not start). Dickerson scored inside and grabbed rebounds, picking up 14 points and 4 rebounds and demonstrating why he’ll help the Florida Gators inside as early as next season. Simmons was no slouch though, as he scored mostly nearly the basket and took on ballhandling and passing chores, as usual. He ended up with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
Given Simmons’ national championship track record in high school, it’s hard to argue him as the No. 1 player in the nation and heavily anticipate his impact in Baton Rogue at LSU next year. He put up a double-double in the title game, as he’d reportedly done 26 other times on the season.
Oak Hill was largely stymied in the second half, but savvy point guard Terrence Phillips was a bright spot. The long-tenured Warriors lead guard was strong defensively and controlled the ball for Oak Hill. Much like his semifinal performance, Oak Hill star Dwayne Bacon had an up and down game. He participated in the McDonald’s All-America game early in the week, and fatigue could have been a factor for him.
Since taking the head coaching position at Montverde Academy, Kevin Boyle has an unmatched track record of success nationally, and should also be commended for the team’s success.