Oak Hill Red Team 3-Peats as NACA National Champions: A Full Season Recap
Mike Burns, Assistant Coach
The 2017-2018 Oak Hill Red Team Warriors had one thing in mind when the season began: embrace challenges and grow together. If those two things happened, the wins and losses would work themselves out. The story of the season played out over the course of three distinct chapters.
Early Season Chapter:
Oak Hill Red began the season 4-4, while experiencing the adversity of losing a prominent player to injury for the remainder of the fall semester. Before Christmas, the Red Team was scheduled to participate in the Millennium Financial Classic in Charlotte, North Carolina. In three games versus quality opponents that proved to be an early season test, the Red Team won all three games (69-46 vs. Charlotte Learning Academy; 54-53 vs. Elevation Prep; 49-40 vs. Victory Christian). The strong appearance in Charlotte, plus a few more victories before Christmas break, brought the Red Team record to 9-4.
Forming a Team Identity: Red Team on The Road Chapter:
After returning from Christmas break, the Red Team hit the road hard, travelling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to play South Carolina State Runner Up, Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach, and another school with athletic tradition, Cheraw. Oak Hill Red won both of these games, 72-52 vs. CAMB and 65-52 vs. Cheraw. Exactly one week later Oak Hill Red Team would travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to face 2017 GICAA State Champions Dawson Christian, and 2018 GICAA State Champions Cumberland Christian. Once again Oak Hill Red came away with two huge victories, 91-87 vs. Dawson Christian and 54-43 vs. Cumberland Christian. These long road trips enabled the team to bond on and off the court and create a culture that is hard to find within most high school basketball teams. This culture and team chemistry allowed the Red Team to finish the regular season 16-9 and enter the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA) National Tournament playing some of their best basketball.
Peaking at the Right Time: NACA National Tournament Chapter
The NACA National Tournament took place February 21st-23rd in Dayton, Tennessee. This tournament requires a team to win 4 games in 3 days in order to be champions, something the Oak Hill Red Team had achieved in back to back years, 2016 and 2017. This year’s NACA was an opportunity for the Oak Hill Red Team to win three consecutive national championships. To open the tournament, Oak Hill Red played Saints Academy from Florida and quickly announced their presence with a 64-31 victory. In the second round, Oak Hill faced a familiar NACA foe in Lighthouse Christian (TN)–a tough game in which Oak Hill Red came out victorious 51-48. On the same day, the Warriors had to face Covenant Christian (GA), a rematch of last year’s NACA Championship game, and the last team standing in the way of a chance at another tournament championship game. Oak Hill Red found the rhythm in the second half and pulled away from Covenant in the final minutes, winning 61-53.
Oak Hill Red had to beat Knoxville Christian (TN), whose coach is an Oak Hill alumnus, in order to raise another banner. To start the game, Oak Hill Red jumped out to an early 17-7 lead, but found itself in a battle with a 24-18 halftime score. In the second half the Warriors took over by attacking the basket and forcing Knoxville Christian to foul, ultimately winning 61-46 and claiming a third straight National Championship.
Pictured Below: Three Oak Hill players were named to the NACA All-Tournament Team: Christian McCray (second from left), Donovan Saine (middle) and Idrissa Sow (far right). McCray was named NACA Tournament MVP, averaging 19ppg and 6rpg for the tournament.
Box Scores for NACA National Tournament Games
Oak Hill Red: 64
McCray 13, Saine 13, Dornevil 11, Sow 10, Hall 9, Malleschitz 3, S. Eng 3, Anene 2.
Saints (Florida): 31
Walls 11, Hickey 6, Tae 4, McGrady 3, Purcell 3, Rick 2, Henry 2.
Oak Hill Red: 51
McCray 23, Saine 9, Dornevil 5, Malleschitz 5, Sow 4, Teal 3, Breaux 2.
Lighthouse Christian (TN): 48
Walker 11, Thomas 9, Liggins 9, Dillon 8, Hall 5, McMurray 4, Bates 2.
Oak Hill Red: 61
McCray 27, Saine 17, Dornevil 11, Sow 5, Teal 1.
Covenant Christian (GA): 53
Molinas 27, Abergut 12, Igbamu 7, Patino 5, Esimone 2.
Oak Hill Red: 61
Sow 23, McCray 13, Saine 8, S. Eng 5, Teal 4, Dornevil 3, Hall 3, Breaux 2.
Knoxville Christian (TN): 46
Jordan 13, Thomas Jr. 12, Freeman 7, Minor 6, Husam 4, Reeves 4.
The Warriors lived up to their name in a hard-fought game against Bull City Prep of Durham last Wednesday night at home. Oak Hill’s Red Team came up a bucket short at 49-50. It was the third game in as many days for Oak Hill’s Red Team. The Warriors travel to Rabun Gap School in Georgia tomorrow, and will host the Carlisle School at home in Turner Gymnasium Tuesday, February 13th, at 7 p.m.
Basketball games scheduled at Moravian Prep in Hickory, NC, are postponed. New dates to be determined.
Today’s post is a recap of the fantastic 3-day experience at the National Association of Christian Academies (NACA) National Championship our Red Team had last week. While the season is not over, this tournament represented a main season-long goal. Please read on to see Coach Burns’ report:
Every high school basketball team begins the season with certain goals that the team would like to accomplish. This may be improving on last years’ record, obtaining an above five-hundred record, or winning a district/regional title. For the Oak Hill Academy Red Team the goal from the start was to defend their 2016 NACA Division 2 National Title.
On Tuesday February 21st, 2017, the Oak Hill Red Team departed campus in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, and traveled, along with an 18-1 regular season record, to Dayton, Tennessee, for the 2017 NACA National Championships. The official start to the tournament was Wednesday morning at the Fort Bluff Camp, home of the National Association of Christian Athletes.
The Oak Hill Red Team would play two games on Wednesday with the first being at 11:30 am against Riverdale Baptist “B” from Maryland. Oak Hill struggled early in the game but was provided a spark when senior Camden Hughes checked into the game. Camden’s timely shooting and energy allowed the other players to gain confidence, finishing the game with a score of 62-51. Scoring from the game: Oliver Lynch-Daniels 22; Camden Hughes 15; Graeme Majors 12; Donovan Saine 6; Akrum Ahemed 4; Aidan Stenner 3.
The second game on Wednesday featured Oak Hill Red vs. West Oaks “B” from Orlando, Florida. During this game the Red Team began to reclaim their defensive identity that made them exciting to watch during the season. Team defense allowed Oak Hill to win 55-31, and finish the first day of games with a 2-0 record. Scoring from the game: Oliver Lynch-Daniels 13; Josh Hall 12; Graeme Majors 11; Aidan Stenner 6; Alex Stenner 4; Akrum Ahemed 2.
Wednesday night all the teams in the tournament gather at Fort Bluff Camp for a Christian speaker, and the message is very important for all who attend. This year’s speaker was the World Famous Crevier Family, known for spinning basketballs and other amazing tricks. The family became known to national TV audiences when they were finalists on “America’s Got Talent,” but their true goal is spreading the Gospel and character development through the audiences they attract. Our athletes were challenged to continually be champions of their attitude and to not be ashamed of their personal faith.
Thursday morning came early for the Red Team with a 10:00 a.m. match-up against Combine Academy from North Carolina. Typically, morning games are offensive struggles and strong team defense is even more important. The Red Team answered the call and quickly put to rest any question if they would play for another National Championship. Final score, Oak Hill 78, Combine 49. This win guaranteed the Red Team a spot in the National Championship game and the ability to defend their title. Scoring from the game: Oliver Lynch-Daniels 17; Akrum Ahemed 11; Josh Hall 11; Donovan Saine 10; Damani McEntire 10; Camden Hughes 6; Aidan Stenner 4; Umberto Brusadin 4; Graeme Majors 3; Shamar Henry 2.
Once again on Thursday night all of the teams at the tournament gathered to listened to a different speaker, Tony Eubanks. Eubanks shared with the athletes, coaches and others in attendance life stories that inspired, challenged and ultimately made everyone serious about their faith. While the games are what everyone focuses on, the speakers are an added bonus to a competitive tournament.
Friday was Championship day and the idea that they could do something special was not lost on the Red Team players. Being back-to-back National Champions was, after all, the goal at the beginning of the season. But just as the first championship, this one would have to be earned. The title game featured Oak Hill Red vs. Covenant Christian Ministries from Georgia. From the start of the game this felt like a heavyweight battle, with both teams trading blows. Oak Hill found its rhythm because of tremendous s defense and rebounding provided by Donovan Saine and Aidan Stenner. The lead changed throughout the second half and both teams held a lead in the fourth quarter, looking to clinch a National Championship. With clutch shooting from deep by Oliver Lynch-Daniels and consistent free throw shooting from Graeme Majors, the Red Team sealed the game 65-58, and therefore accomplished a team goal of Back-to-Back National Championships. Scoring from the game: Oliver Lynch-Daniels 20; Donovan Saine 15; Graeme Majors 11; Aidan Stenner 9; Michael Odiana 4; Akrum Ahemed 4; Damani McEntire 3.
After the championship game, the NACA Tournament announced All-Tournament Teams and Most Outstanding Players. For Oak Hill Academy Camden Hughes, Aidan Stenner and Oliver Lynch-Daniels were named All-Tournament with Oliver Lynch-Daniels being named Most Outstanding Offensive Player for the second year in a row.