Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), playing most of the game without top scorer and McDonald’s All-American Keldon Johnson, crushed No. 11 Garfield (Seattle) 75-53 Thursday in the GEICO High School Nationals.
Oak Hill (36-3) was led by Florida signee Keyontae Johnson (no relation to Keldon) with 19 points, including 13 in the first half, and by point guard Will Richardson, an Oregon signee, with 17 points and five assists.
Keldon Johnson, a Kentucky signee, only played four minutes after rolling his ankle. By the second half, however, he was up and walking, so he may be OK to play in Friday’s semifinal (3 p.m., ESPN2) against No. 2-ranked University (Fort Lauderdale).
Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said not having Johnson for much of last week while he was preparing for McDonald’s may have helped the Warriors.
“We have been practicing without him the last couple of days,” Smith said. “We had other guys step up. He wants to play tomorrow, so we’ll see.”
Oak Hill never let Garfield in the game, with or without Keldon Johnson.
“All week coach told us that we have the start the game off strong and I think some players off the bench who hadn’t been playing that well, stepped up, ” Richardson said.
Keyontae Johnson, who is good friends with Keldon, said the loss of his teammate wasn’t that big a factor.
“I felt I had to play my role,” Johnson said. “I still had to do the same thing as with Keldon there.”
Garfield (28-2), which won its state 3A title, was led by Southern Cal commit J’Raan Brooks with 15 points and Jamon Kemp with 11. The Bulldogs never led and shot only 23.1% in the first half. It was their first game this season against an elite opponent.
“You can’t simulate their size and their skill and their coaching,” Garfield coach Brandon Roy said. “Our schedule didn’t match up to the intensity that we got from Oak Hill today. Our guys, before today, never played in an ESPN game. We were missing some bunnies and we didn’t give them a good shot early. We’ve got four or five young guys coming back. We are not going to hang our heads.”
Oak Hill handed University its only loss, 83-69, in January at the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
“We have to do a better job on Vernon (Carey, Jr.),” Smith said. “He had 29 points the first time we played them. We may do something different. … He’s as good as anybody in his class. I think he’s the best player in his class. We have to corral him a bit and not let him get going early.”
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter at: @jimhalley