No. 16 Wings puts scare in top-ranked Oak Hill at DICK'S Nationals

No. 16 Wings puts scare in top-ranked Oak Hill at DICK'S Nationals

Geico High School Nationals

No. 16 Wings puts scare in top-ranked Oak Hill at DICK'S Nationals

By

Oak Hill survives scare

Oak Hill guard Terrence Phillips against Wings Academy in the DICK’S High School Nationals. (Photo: Steven Ryan)

MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. — The truth is that it was a minor miracle that the final score of 72-63 was only a nine-point spread.

Oak Hill Academy, the nation’s top-ranked and undefeated team, was frustrated throughout a scrappy, tough game against No. 16 Wings Academy, the city and state champion from New York. The Warriors bolted out to a 13-3 lead, but the expected blowout had been pulled back within range at both the end of the first quarter and first half by a pesky Wings Academy team feeding off Georgetown-bound center Jessie Govan.

Though he was tied for a game-high 13 points in the half, superstar Florida State recruit and McDonald’s All American Dwayne Bacon shot just 5-for-12, including 1-for-5 from behind the arc.

RELATED: Huntington Prep pulls out thriller

Bacon later finished with 21 points, but he and his teammates could never quite shake a tenacious Wings team that some had expected to lose by 30-40 points.

Oak Hill from Mouth of Wilson, Va., moves on to face Huntington (WVa.) Prep in the 5 p.m. semifinal on Friday.

“It shouldn’t have been as hard as it was, I think,” 30-year Oak Hill coaching veteran Steve Smith said. “I took three of our starters out at the later part of the third and it bit us in the butt a bit. It might have been a little ugly for us, but we haven’t played in 4 1/2 weeks. We had trouble keeping (Wings guard Desure Buie) in front of us a little bit, but he’s quick and the big guy (Govan) hurt us a little bit inside.”

Smith was right, and the same Wings formula kept them within striking distance throughout. The second half played out as a repeat of the first, with Oak Hill racing out to a 19-point edge only to see Wings claw all the way back within six, 54-48, at third period’s end. The lead was only seven points entering the final minute, with Oak Hill eventually pulling out the 72-63 victory.

RELATED: Noah Dickerson leads Montverde to victory

The real question was how Wings was able to stay so close throughout? And, perhaps, could the success found by Govan and Wings’ dynamic scoring point guard, Desure Buie, be used by others to crack Oak Hill’s undefeated armor?

Some of it may have had to do with an unofficial home court advantage. Though Wings was playing on the home floor of the team it had just vanquished in New York’s Tournament of Champions, the assembled fans at Christ the King clearly took to the upstart state champion squad.

“It wasn’t a surprise (that Wings played tough) because we knew what we were getting into,” Bacon said. “They’re from New York and they’re playing as the New York team.”

Govan, who fouled out in the final 30 seconds, finished with 20 points and dominated Oak Hill’s bigs inside, adding nine hard-fought rebounds even when he was the lone Wings big against multiple Oak Hill opponents. Buie had a game-high 22 points, one more than Bacon, who was hounded throughout by Wings senior Randy Corporan.

And while they finished on the losing side, Wings’ athletes made it clear that they were proud of staying so close to the team that enters the DICK’S High School Nationals as favorite to walk away with a national crown.

“They got some good players on their team, they’re really deep and have a lot of bigs,” Govan said. “We banged out against them and kept them to within nine. I think we made New York proud today.”

Few in the crowd, or watching on TV, would be able to disagree.

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports