COLUMBIA, S.C. – Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) point guard Will Richardson was fully aware that No. 8 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) had unofficially adopted the role of giant slayers at the Chick-fil-Classic.
First, the Ascenders knocked off No. 7 Huntington Prep (W.Va.) then they took down No. 4 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), but Richardson was determined that the third time would be anything but the charm.
That’s why he had “no doubt” that with the score tied and just 11 seconds left in regulation not only were the Warriors going to prevail, but he was going to be the reason why.
Richardson made good on that by calmly bringing he ball up the floor, tactically maneuvering his way around his defender and sinking a short pull-up in the lane to lift No. 3 Oak Hill past IMG and clinch the Chick-fil-A Classic National Division title on Saturday.
This was the fourth time the Warriors have won the Chick-fil-A Classic title.
“I knew that they weren’t really guarding the ball-screen to well tonight so I told my big fella Dave (McCormack) to set the screen and I attacked,” said Richardson, who scored 17 points, handed out six assists and grabbed six rebounds in the win. “I’ve hit a couple clutch shots in the past so I wasn’t gonna pass after I read that screen. I knew we were gonna win.”
Keldon Johnson, who was named Most Valuable Player, led Oak Hill with 25 points and six rebounds and McCormack added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Silvio De Sousa, who was named Most Outstanding Player, led IMG Academy with 25 points and 11 rebounds. It was De Sousa’s final high school game after completing required coursework to join Kansas on Dec. 26.
The Warriors connected on 6 of 9 from the three-point line in the first half and turned five steals into eight points to claim a 40-37 halftime lead.
Johnson went 3 of 4 from three to lead the Warriors in the first half.
Oak Hill opened the second half on a 10-2 run and led by as much as 14 in the second half, but the Ascenders rode the hot hand of Jahmius Ramsey, who connected on two clutch three-pointers and drained a 15 footer to tie the game with 11 seconds left.
“Basketball is a game of runs and they’re a really good team so you expect them to come back,” said Johnson, a Kentucky signee. “We just buckled down and showed how tough we are and executed in the end. That was the difference. This was the perfect scenario for us headed into a little break.”
Richardson, an Oregon signee, cosigned that and said growing up as an Oak Hill fan he dreamed of playing in the Chick-fil-A Classic one day and leading his team to a title.
“This was the best Christmas present ever,” he said. “Can’t ask for more than this.”
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