MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. – After avoiding a monumental upset against Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas) in the opening round, La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) forward Isaiah Stewart promised that the No. 1 Lakers would be sharper in their semifinal matchup with No. 9 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at GEICO High School Nationals.
The wake-up call had the No. 1 Lakers more prepared to go down to the wire in their 58-57 win over the Warriors on Friday. Oak Hill guard Cam Thomas’ wide-open, go-ahead three-pointer missed long as time expired.
Keion Brooks led La Lumiere with 20 points, Stewart added 14 points and 16 rebounds. Thomas posted 22 points and seven rebounds and Cole Anthony had 11 points for the Warriors.
“God was with us,” Stewart said. “I closed my eyes when they had a wide-open look; I was hoping it didn’t go in; like I said God was with us.”
The Lakers were on fire from the jump, draining 61 percent of their field goals and holding the Warriors to just 20 percent to build a 22-11 lead after the first quarter.
After going scoreless in the first quarter, Anthony scored seven points and dished out two assists to key a 13-2 run and tie the game at 24 with just under four minutes left in the half.
The Warriors took their first lead, 28-26, with 1:20 left in the half on a Thomas breakaway layup.
Oak Hill led 30-26 at halftime.
The Lakers got six points and five rebounds from Stewart and took a 44-42 lead headed into the fourth after his tip-in as time expired. The Warriors cut the lead to one, 58-57, with 29 seconds left in regulation on Anthony’s coast-to-coast layup.
After Gerald Drumgoole missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Warriors ran an inbounds play to perfection, but Thomas’ corner three rimmed out.
“We had a great look with our best three-point shooter and I thought it was in,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. “It just didn’t go down. They played their hearts out, obviously we’re disappointed. This is about as disappointed as I’ve ever been.”
Thomas said he was “surprised” at how open he was.
“It felt good and everything,” Thomas said. “I expected it to go in.”
The Lakers will face No. 4 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) on Saturday at noon (ESPN2) for the GEICO Nationals title.
The Ascenders erased a 16-point lead against No. 3 Montverde (Fla.) Academy to earn a trip to the title game.
“It’ll be interesting,” Stewart said of the matchup with IMG. “I’m gonna go back and watch their game against Montverde to see how they play and how they came back against them. We’ll do a lot of studying.”
The final Super 25 Boys Basketball rankings will be released on April 8.
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