MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. – Coming in to GEICO High School Nationals, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) point guard Cole Anthony knew that returning to New York could create some degree of distraction, and for that reason planned to limit his interactions with everyone.
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The tunnel vision approach translated into 30 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Warriors past Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah) 79-72 Thursday in the opening round of GEICO Nationals.
“I was happy to see my family,” Anthony said. “I was happy to get that win more than anything.”
Cam Thomas added 16 points in the win. Mike Saunders led Wasatch with 22 points.
The Warriors turned 10 Wasatch turnovers into eight points in the first half to claim a 43-37 halftime lead.
The teams switched roles in the third quarter, Wasatch forced eight Oak Hill turnovers and cut the lead to 53-52 with 1:50 left in the third quarter on Tre Williams’ three-pointer.
Anthony opened the fourth with back-to-back threes to extend the Warriors’ lead, but Caleb Lohner’s jump shot pulled the Tigers to within three, 73-70, with 1:20 left.
The Warriors went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line down the stretch to secure the win.
“It was as tough game, both teams played in spurts,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. “Cole made plays and ran our offense about as well as you could so we were hard to guard. We executed down the stretch and that was the deciding factor.”
Oak Hill will play No. 1 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) Friday at 5 p.m. (ESPN2) in the semifinals.
“They’re undefeated and No. 1 in the country for a reason,” Smith said. “They’ve got all the pressure in the world on them and we’re playing pretty free. I like out chances. I think we can matchup with them.”
Final Super 25 Boys Basketball Rankings will be released on April 8.
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