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.