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December 7, 2012
Annually one of the top prep basketball programs in the country, the Oak Hill Warriors under the direction of Steve Smith are a factory for producing College Basketball players and future NBA talents. Every year they are seemingly nationally ranked, contending for a mythical National Championship.
The Eastern Region has brought home 18 of the past 28 AAA State Championships, but a team from Tidewater hasn't played the mighty giant that is Oak Hill until Woodside fell to them in a showcase in January of 2005 at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake. Kecoughtan got the opportunity to play Oak Hill on Thursday night at Heritage High School in Newport News.
Ranked fifth in the VirginiaPreps.com Preseason AAA State Top 25, Kecoughtan was no match for a powerhouse that has players committed to the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. Oak Hill overwhelmed the Peninsula District's Warriors, 82-45, leading by as many as 41 points and only trailing after Kecoughtan scored the game's opening.
"Way too much size," Keceoughtan Head Basketball Coach Ivan Thomas commented of his team's matchup versus Oak Hill. "We're not going to face anything like this again, and if I had a chance to do it again, I would. My out-of-district record when it comes to teams that I play like Montrose, Oak Hill and others, it's not that great, but we're trying to build for later."
Thomas, who guided the Warriors to the State Final Four a season ago and won a state title at T.C. Williams in March of 2008, relied heavily upon a couple of Division I College Basketball talents of his own in 6-foot-8 forward Rajay Bullock and 6-foot-4 sharp shooting swingman Greg Alexander, committed to Providence and East Carolina respectively.
Alexander scored 14 points and Bullock chipped in 11 points. But the two were held to 8-for-27 shooting and ten rebounds total. Compounding matters was the fact Kecoughtan dressed only nine players with three members out, including a key starter in 6-foot-6 forward Kaelin Poe.
Kecoughtan shot only 8-of-22 from three-point range, and while they stayed close down only 16-10 with a minute to go in the first quarter, it quickly got out of hand when Oak Hill went on a 12-0 surge, keyed by suffocating defense that forced 11 first half turnovers.
"Early on, we tried to do way too much. I kind of thought we got a game-plan because the game-plan was not to shoot that quick," Thomas added. "I told them to run the offense two, three times in a row, but this is not a traditional we face and you've got to be patient to have success against them.
While one of Hampton Roads' better teams struggled, a 757 native shined as Troy Williams, former Phoebus star who's committed to Indiana, led Oak Hill in his own backyard with 24 points, 15 rebounds and four assists. Playing aggressive yet under control, Williams showed a more polished game than fans became accustomed to seeing during the previous three years.
Williams shot an efficient 11-of-17 from the field and threw down four powerful jams. Being back home was a memorable experience and one he won't forget.
"Hearing my mom in the crowd and all that again, my cousin screaming and following up with her, it was a lot of fun seeing some old friends and stuff," Williams said. "At half-time, Coach wanted us to win by 40, but it was still a good win, more than 30."
Troy, rated among the nation's Top 50 prospects from the Class of 2013 according to Rivals.com, said one of the biggest adjustments for him now playing at Oak Hill is getting used to playing a Championship-level game every time. There are no pushovers on the schedule.
"You've got to bring you A-game every day," he noted. "There are no days off, and at Oak Hill any game is a big game. On Tuesday, we had a game against Flora McDonald. We were expected to win by more than 20, ended up winning by seven, shooting 32% from the field. We had a big transition from last game to this game."
Playing the role of star was Williams and his supporting cast consisted of Sindarius Thornwell and Nate Britt, a duo that provided 23 points, 10 assists and seven steals. Committed to South Carolina, Thornwell scored 16 points with 12 coming on three-point bombs. Britt, who's headed to North Carolina, mainly served as a distributor in this contest, being one of five different Oak Hill players with multiple assists.
Oak Hill went to the free-throw line only eight times on the evening. The charity stripe wasn't needed because their firepower allowed them to get out in transition and strike in the blink of an eye, drilling eight three-pointers to go with eight dunks.
Meanwhile, Kecoughtan had only three offensive rebounds the entire night. In addition, 39 of their 45 points came from the starting unit, lacking the depth necessary to compete with a loaded bunch like Oak Hill for 32 minutes. Despite the lopsided loss, Thomas feels they will benefit from the matchup and soaked up a lot.
"They learned that size matters and we had guys that couldn't get their shot off, and we couldn't get the rebound," Thomas stated. "It's a great learning experience. I didn't think we quit, and we'll get better."
Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail email@example.com, and don't forget to listen to him Saturdays from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.
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