Oak Hill Academy closed a two-game stay in Columbia with a 59-51 win against host Ridge View on Saturday in the final game of the Clarion Hotel Invitational.
The defending national champion Warriors improved to 15-1 but had much more of a fight on their hands than in Friday’s blowout win against Keenan.
“We did some really good things and I’m really proud of the way we competed,” Ridge View coach John Combs said.
The Blazers (6-1) were within 39-31 entering the fourth quarter when the Warriors went on a 15-6 run to increase the lead to 54-37 with 3:09 to play. Rokas Gustys, who was the key figure in a third-quarter surge that blew open the Keenan game, scored six of his nine points during the decisive move against the Blazers.
“Our goal was to keep our composure and try to keep it close at the end to give ourselves a chance,” Combs said. “We had our opportunities, but they’re the better basketball team.”
Ridge View created 10 more shots than Oak Hill but converted 18 of 60 attempts from the field.
“It’s really tough to simulate the athleticism that a team like Oak Hill Academy has, so it’s one thing to talk about it and another to play against it,” Combs said. “I think the guys were a little nervous, apprehensive of Oak Hill’s shot-blocking ability, and they rushed some shots when we got it inside.”
Tre’von Howell led the Blazers with 14 points and had 10-point backing from Jarrell Brantley and Dre’Quwan Wages. Brantley and Wages more than help their own on the boards with eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
Lancaster native Sindarius Thornwell led the Warriors with 15 points and six rebounds, giving him 27 points in his first games in his home state since transferring to Oak Hill.
“It really felt good to have family and friends in the stands showing me some love,” said the 6-foot-5 South Carolina-bound guard. “I’m still adjusting to playing with these guys, but I’m getting there. I have my spurts; I just need to be a little more consistent. The toughest thing is I’m used to taking a lot of shots, and here I’m learning how to fit in with a bunch of great players.”
Troy Williams was the only other Oak Hill player in double figures with 10 points. Williams, who is signed to play at Indiana, was a crowd favorite with 27 points and eight dunks in the two games.