Science Hill hung around for a quarter, but was no match for top-ranked Oak Hill Academy.
The Warriors got 22 points from Georgetown signee D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and 17 points from UCLA signee Jordan Adams, and coasted to an 82-47 victory Monday night at the ’Topper Palace.
Oak Hill improved to 16-0 while handing the Hilltoppers (11-1) their first loss of the season. Warriors coach Steve Smith was pleased with the effort, especially when considering Oak Hill was coming off its first tough game of the season on Saturday and has a top-five matchup on ESPN on Thursday.
“We’ve got a big game Thursday — a TV game — and we just had a huge game Saturday,” said Smith, who’s in his 27th season coaching the Mouth of Wilson, Va., school. “So I was a little worried ... that we would be flat or mentally not ready to play. But they gave the effort. We didn’t play our best, but I thought we played pretty well. We played hard and got after it.”
Science Hill played hard, too. Consecutive 3-pointers from Reed Hayes and Will Adams cut Oak Hill’s lead to 21-17 with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
But Smith-Rivera answered with a baseline drive which triggered a 14-2 run filled with leaners, floaters and mid-range fadeaways — just what you’d expect from a team with six Division I seniors and two juniors who will play at that level.
Point guard Tyler Lewis, a North Carolina State signee, was the only other Warrior who scored in double figures (10 points). Eight of those came in the first quarter, including two 3-pointers.
Adams, Lewis’ counterpart, played well in the second half. He had a couple of acrobatic drives, a put-back and a steal and layup while engineering an 11-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. But all the spurt did was cut Oak Hill’s lead to 65-42.
“I wish I could’ve played like that the whole game instead of just waiting until the second half,” Adams said. “But I wouldn’t have played the second half like that if it wasn’t for my teammates out there supporting me and doing good and trying their hardest, too. We didn’t give up.”
Adams did catch the Oak Hill coach’s eyes.
“I like the point guard a lot,” Smith said.
Adams finished with 12 points, as did Tre’vonn Fields. Hayes and C.J. Good scored eight points apiece.
“They’re 11-1 now, with the only loss to us,” Smith-Rivera said. “So they’re obviously doing something and they’re working pretty hard. You can just look and tell — that team works pretty hard. I congratulate guys like that, and I respect guys like that who just take the time to get better and just want to compete.”
Science Hill shot 29 percent. A decent percentage of the missed shots came on good opportunities. Smith wanted to play man-to-man defense, so 7-foot, 275-pound A.J. Hammons — a Purdue signee — didn’t log a lot of minutes.
“They’re smaller and spread us out some,” Smith said. “We broke down a little bit more on defense than we would like. Luckily, they didn’t make the shots. But we had a lot of size advantage, which I’m sure they felt our presence defensively. ... They still had to rush their shots. ...
“Our 7-footer, I didn’t play him much, because I didn’t know who he could guard. We put him on two or three different guys when he’s out there and he’d break down and they’d drive by him; they shot an open three one time.”
Of course, a mismatch at one end of the court was a mismatch at the other end, too. Consecutive dunks via offensive rebounds by 6-foot-7, 255-pound Montarius Hall gave the Warriors a 63-31 lead with a minute left in the third quarter.
Oak Hill also got some tips and put-backs while ending the game on a 17-5 run. The highlight dunk came on the game’s final basket. Darien Clark, a 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, elevated on a fast break to dunk 6-foot-6 Damien Wilson’s long, diagonal lob pass.
“I thought there, especially in the fourth quarter, when we were making that spurt, I thought we actually played some pretty good defense,” Science Hill coach Ken Cutlip said. “And then there guys just made tough shots. ... I thought we got caught watching a little bit in the first half. I thought we were in position ... to pick up a loose ball and just kind of got caught watching what was going and not reacting the way that we’d been able to do up till this point in the season.”
Smith coached at Oak Hill when it lost to Science Hill in December of 1994. Not that any of his players were out of diapers, if alive, at that point, but Smith mentioned it.
“All I told them before the game was we’d played Science Hill one other occasion 16 or 17 years ago,” he said, “and I did tell them we didn’t win the game.”
Science Hill athletic director Keith Turner said the game was a couple of hundred tickets shy of a sellout. Some 1,500 were sold.
Science Hill visits Dobyns-Bennett on Friday.