A year ago, Keenan took national title-bound Oak Hill Academy to the final seconds before falling by one point at the Chick-fil-A Classic.
Friday night in the Clarion Hotel Invitational at Ridge View, the 14-1 Warriors from Mouth of Wilson, Va., took the Raiders to the cleaners in an 81-53 rout. Oak Hill delivered the knockout blow with a 19-0 run that turned a competitive 43-33 game into a 62-33 laugher.
“We could’ve played better, especially early in the game when we couldn’t seem to get into a flow,” Warriors coach Steve Smith said. “But then we got some turnovers and some quick shots and out we went. We’re really good in transition, and our guys are good at sharing the ball in the open floor. That’s what presented itself there in the third quarter when we broke it open.”
Keenan came out firing, and hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter on the way to a 14-10 lead at the 3:53 mark. But Oak Hill’s size, strength and quickness advantages soon came into play. The Warriors scored the final six points of the opening period and scored the first six points of the second to take a 22-14 lead. The Raiders were never closer than seven points the rest of the way.
“They are a wonderful team, better than last year in my opinion, but we could have given a better showing,” said Keenan coach Zach Norris, whose team suffered its first loss in six games. “I’m embarrassed because this was a chance to put Columbia on the map and we didn’t answer the challenge. We fell in love with the jump shot on offense and I was totally disappointed in our defensive effort.”
Oak Hill’s decisive 19-0 run featured 10 points by 6-foot-8 post man Rokas Gustys and three fast-break assists by Indiana signee Troy Williams. Gustys, who did not start, had his best game of the season with 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. He tallied 14 points in the third and didn’t miss a shot. Williams had a solid all-around performance with 15 points (including four dunks), eight rebounds and five assists.
Lancaster native Sindarius Thornwell, who has committed to South Carolina, had 12 points, six boards and six assists.
“Rokas played great; it was the biggest game he’s had all year,” Smith said. “He really ran the floor well and finished plays. We had a long talk. I told him we need more out of him, and he responded tonight.”
Charles Smith was the bright spot for Keenan. The junior forward scored a game-high 24 points. Smith had the hot hand during Keenan’s early surge, going 3-for-3 from the field, including two 3-pointers.
OHA: Tang 2, Sindarius Thornwell 12, Britt 7, Troy Williams 17, Freeman 8, Phillips 6, Curington 9, Rokas Gustys 20. K: Stroman 6, Tolliver 2, Davis 2, Charles Smith 24, Hopkins 8, Jaquan Allen 11.