At 2:00 pm CT on the ESPN mothership, the two top-ranked teams in high school basketball will face off, the first time in the history of the sport that the top two teams have met at the end of the season in a single-elimination, winner-take-all game to determine the national champion. In essence, this final is the precise reason for the creation of the tournament and represents the ideal scenario for the creators and promoters.
Both squads are loaded with future college players and both teams moved easily through their semifinal match ups, with Oak Hill pulling away from Myck Kabongo's St. Benedict's squad late in the game, 74-66, led by the dynamic scoring of MoMo Jones, who lead Oak Hill will 22. OU commit Keith Gallon, limited early by foul trouble, finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds, though he spent much of the game floating on the perimeter.
Findlay Prep harassed Montrose Christian into a horrible shooting performance and deep early hole, including a 3-23 performance in the first half and finishing 15-56. Avery Bradley was absolutely sensational in the game, scoring 15 of his team's first 17 points and finished the first half with 20, single-handedly outscoring the entire Montrose Christian team to lead 27-13 by the half. By the final buzzer, which he heard from a seat on the bench which the lead had allowed him to occupy for much of the fourth quarter, Bradley had poured in 27 pounds, six rebounds, four steals, and three blocked shots, including two spectacular blocks in the open court. It was a typically efficient game offensively for Bradley, and typically impressive defensively, as Bradley single-handedly forced two Montrose Christian timeouts during the game pressuring the opposing point guard trying to receive the inbounds pass. In fact, Bradley made it a constant struggle for Montrose to even get into their offense.
The Mach ups
Given the star power of both teams, there will be no shortage of intriguing individual match ups. However, there will be two that will go far to eventually determining the outcome of the game:
- Avery Bradley vs. MoMo Jones - Both players dominated in the semifinals, with Jones providing the second-half surge that helped Oak Hill pull away from the over-matched Gray Bees and Bradley dominating on both ends of the court. Jones will have a much toughter time scoring against the long-armed Bradley and if the Pilots can limit Jones on the wing, everything becomes much more difficult for Oak Hill.
- Keith Gallon vs. Carlos Lopez - In the semifinals, both players endured foul trouble throughout the game, which Lopez must avoid as the widest and strongest body Findlay can send at the behemoth Gallon -- Tristan Thompson's slight frame likely wouldn't stand the pounding that Gallon can deliver when he actually decides to bang in the paint instead of floating on the perimeter. In that sense, it may be Gallon who limits his own game more than the defense of Lopez.
Oak Hill has an incredible amount of talent for a high school team, but the firepower of Avery Bradley offensively and his defense on MoMo Jones will give Findlay the edge that they need. Bradley's squad takes the national championship 65-60.