NEW YORK- No. 2 Oak Hill Academy has made it to the Dick’s National Championship game five times. Each of those appearances the prestigious basketball program that has produced countless NBA talent have failed to come away with the title. The last three years, the Warriors made it to Madison Square Garden three years in a row but lost to Montverde Academy (FL).
With Montverde losing in the semifinals, Oak Hill faced a new challenger in the title game….La Lumiere (IN). In the third quarter, the Warriors had an 18-point lead and looked like they were going to run away with the game. But things began to change when La Lumiere picked up the pace and outscored Oak Hill 16-6 in the fourth quarter to force the game into overtime.
During the season, Oak Hill has been in situations where they needed big plays during the final moments to carry them to victory. And that’s exactly what they got in the game against La Lumiere.
After Warriors guard Matt Coleman missed a three pointer, center Sy Khadim hit a putback layup at the buzzer that lifted Oak Hill over the Lakers 62-60.
“Matt made a strong move to the basket and I think two guys tipped it before it went in,” Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith said. “It’s not the way you would draw it up from a coach’s’ standpoint but it’s a championship and that is all that matters.”
Oak Hill senior Braxton Key was huge for the Warriors. The Alabama commit finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. The Tournament’s MVP really stepped up his game in the second half. Key had 14 points and all nine of his rebounds in the second half after only scoring six points in the first.
“Braxton was huge for us in the fourth quarter,” coach Smith said. “When we got behind, we stuck to him.”
Junior guard Lindell Wigginton was second on the team in scoring with 16 points (5-12 FG) and collected five rebounds. During the final minutes of overtime, Wigginton tied the game at 60 when he attacked the basket and scored the layup while being fouled.
“He [Wigginton] settled for shots a couple of times,” coach Smith said. “I said to him, be aggressive and let the ref call a foul. He is a physical player and doesn’t mind the contact.”
Rebounding played a major role in Oak Hill claiming their first Dick’s National Championship. The Warriors out rebounded The Lakers 47-39. Oak Hill knew they had to be aggressive on the boards when going against a big team like La Lumiere.
“We know they [La Lumiere] are a big team,” Braxton Key said. “So we had to be a strong and physical.”
For La Lumiere this was a tough lost to handle. The Lakers were down for the most part of the game but managed to find a way to come back and take the lead in the fourth quarter. Junior Brian Bowen finished with 20 points (6-22 FG) and nine rebounds. Bowen made some clutch shots during the fourth quarter and in overtime that gave the Lakers some momentum.
Freshman guard Tyger Campbell tallied 12 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. While, Isaiah Coleman-Lands came off the bench and put up 13 points and nine rebounds.
“I’m very proud of the fight,” La Lumiere head coach Shane Heirman said. “We felt a little defeated but I thought the guys rallied and changed their body language.”
Early in the first quarter, La Lumiere junior center Jeremiah Tilmon went down with an apparent shoulder injury and had to be taken out of the game.
“As far as I know, he separated his shoulder and went to the hospital,” coach Heirman said. “Some of our faculty is with him.”
In the stands, there were students from La Lumiere that made the trip from Indiana to Madison Square Garden. For Tyger Campbell, the student support played a big role in the Lakers comeback.
“It shows a lot about our school,” Campbell said. “How the whole school wanted to support us.”
On La Lumiere’s roster, there are only two seniors on the team. With the experienced the Lakers gain this season, they are confident that they will make it back to the Dick’s National Championship game next year.
“It’s the worse feeling in the world right now,” Brian Bowen said. “But we are going to be back next year.”