By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
In a tournament of stars and loaded teams, Oak Hill Academy has set a new standard.
Four appearances, four tournament titles.
The Warriors kept their perfect Bass Pro Tournament of Champions record intact with a 72-57 win over Paul VI in Saturday night’s title game at JQH Arena. All five Oak Hill starters scored in double figures, led by tournament MVP Cam Thomas’ game-high 26 points.
“We didn’t play extremely well Friday night, but we got focused tonight,” said Oak Hill coach Steve Smith. “I thought the guys played really well, especially from the second quarter on.”
The outcome gives Oak Hill (26-1 overall) its fourth Tournament of Champions title all time.
The Warriors, who won it all in 2015, 2016 and 2018, improved to 12-0 in the annual showcase event.
“You know in the semifinals and finals that you’re going to play a team that’s nationally ranked,” Smith said. “You have to get up and play and be prepared.”
Thomas, who entered the tournament averaging around 30 points per game, shot 8-for-14 from the field against Paul VI. He led the Warriors with eight rebounds.
“I don’t really expect stuff like (winning tournament MVP),” Thomas said. “I just take it in and be grateful that I have great teammates who can help us win games.”
Thomas received some playful heckling from his coach after finishing 7-for-11 at the free throw line.
“I can’t remember the last time he missed four free throws,” Smith said.
Oak Hill starters Evan Johnson (13), KK. Robinson (12), Darius Maddox (11) and Emmanuel Okpomo (10) also scored in double figures.
The Warriors never trailed after the first quarter.
Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) took a 51-37 lead on Johnson’s 3-pointer with three minutes left in the third quarter. From there, the Warriors maintained a double-digit lead until Paul VI got within nine in the final two minutes.
Oak Hill’s array of defenses, man and zone, limited Paul VI to just 22-for-62 shooting from the field. The Warriors, by comparison, finished 27-for-49.
“We just tried to mix it up with our defense,” Smith said. “It seemed to bother them and confuse them a little bit.”
Paul VI (13-4 overall) got 18 points from Trevor Keels in the loss.
Oak Hill surged ahead late in the second quarter, taking a 35-26 lead on Darius Maddox’s fastbreak dunk with 1:47 remaining. The dunk highlighted a 13-2 Oak Hill run that broke a 24-all tie.
Oak Hill made 11 of its final 14 shots to close the first half.
“We got a lead and kind of nursed it the rest of the game,” Smith said.
Saturday night’s title game had an announced attendance of 9,722. The total, three-day mark was 22,553.
“To me, it’s the best tournament in the country,” Smith said. “I’ve been at Oak Hill 35 years, so we’ve played in every tournament you can play in. The first time I came here, I thought this was the best tournament I’ve ever been in. Now it’s the fourth, and I still do.”
Oak Hill 72, Paul VI 57
Paul VI 15 14 14 14 — 57
Oak Hill 14 23 19 16 — 72
Paul VI – Trevor Keels 18, Knasir McDaniel 13, Jeremy Roach 12, Christian May 6, William Paige 4, Jack Jensen 2, Tyler Coleman 2
Oak Hill – Cam Thomas 26, Evan Johnson 13, K.K. Robinson 12, Darius Maddox 11, Emmanuel Okpomo 10