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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio • Page 38

Cincinnati, Ohio
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C12 SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2006 FN THE ENQUIRER NO. 1 VS. NO. 2 BASKETBALL SHOWDOWN Quiet please Prep stars at i 7 i A 1 1 i hi I Pi I I 1 A- mKUm 9 mm- i i V- M.Ummf a -A- -Cta Out-of-town stars win before silent sellout crowd of 16,202 It felt like an arranged marriage, so it was fitting that the atmosphere was church-like. North College Hill against Oak Hill Academy, for king of Then, a few years from now, here's hoping Mayo and Walker drop a few dollars back into their alma mater.

You know, remember that they were once part of a community that embraced them. You couldn't deny men that this weird alliance of great talents and small school was anything but blessed. Until then, well watch games like this and wonder where all the cheering went The alliance, holy or unholy, of summer basketball, sneaker companies and pressure to win has created a culture we either (A) revel in or 03) put up with, depending on your perspective. Saturday was a mating of pedigrees. You put two champions together and hope for the best The atmosphere was fraudulent.

The entertainment was better than that the muted gloss of a gym. "You get a little nervous playing in front of everybody," said Tun Tierney, Covington Catholic's point guard. "Obviously, it's cool." Tierney wasn't too cool to hide his admiration for Mayo, saying "When you're 6-5 and play point guard and you can shoot and dunk, that's pretty special. Some guys sit there and shoot every time. If a guy's open, hell get it to him." All credit to NCH and Oak Hill for allowing the light to shine on Ryle, CovCath, Taft and Dayton Dunbar.

And next year, when NCH is getting a low five-figure guarantee from promoters to play in games like this, let's hope the Trojans spend it all on the kids. Not just the jocks. Books would be good. A computer lab. the folks most interested in the outcome were the sneaker company guys and the AAU coaches and the other assorteds who make college (and now high school) basketball so, um, interesting.

Not that it was a washout. It was simply entertainment cold as ice. Mayo finished with 43 points. Walker had a handful of highlight slams. The crowd got its money's worth.

The Oak Hill Warriors, ranked the No. 1 prep team in the country most likely by a few people who have never seen them play beat No. 2 NCH 88-74. Their best player, point guard Tywon Lawson, scored 21 points and broke about four ankles with his crossover dribble. noted Oak Hill coach Steve Smith.

This was not a tough place to play." The arena was nearly full 15 minutes before the game, when both teams walked out for warmups to silence. You could have heard a string quartet playing in Great American Park next door. Watching OJ. Mayo and Bill Walker battle the galaxy of future college All-Americans and impending NBA millionaires from Mouth of Wilson, was an event, not a game. It was basketball, in the same way the Oscars are the movies.

Beyond the small collection of NCH fans doing their best to fill the arena with something beyond silence, By the time Mayo drilled a very pro-looking fadeaway jumper, he had scored 36 points and the Trojans still trailed 71-59. Mayo and Walker finished with 67 of NCH's 74 points. Two great players were no match for seven or eight Things were a little different in the first game of the tliree-game evening. Covington Catholic played Ryle in a nearly empty arena. The cheers, however, were about as loud.

Each team actually had fans, gathered to cheer on the kids from their teams. The players in the first two games were nervous. It was a good anxiety, a kid's tingle at being in the bright lights of an arena instead of Oak Hill tall order, even for Walker But NCH forward still scores 24 points 'j In 4 Tmmtwf'' 'it vv I By John Erardi Enquirer staff writer Everybody knew about North College Hill's OJ Mayo going into Saturday night's sellout game against Oak Hill Academy (Va.) at U.S. Bank Arena. But many in the crowd of 16,500 learned more than a little something about the Trojans' Bill Walker Nice outside shot, great body control, can handle the ball, runs the Door.

And, oh, those thunder jams. Good as Mayo is, nobody on North College Hill gets people out of their seats more often than Walker does. His follow-up jam of an NCH miss to open the scoring Saturday brought a huge roar. Was it going to be that kind of night? The rim-rattling jam had the pro-NCH crowd thinking maybe so. But Walker, unlike the crowd, knew what was coming next "It (the jam) brought a lot of attention, and I knew they were going to clog the middle after that" Walker said.

That's what a good team does." And Oak Hill is not only a good team, it is a great team. The Warriors are built like a big-time college team. That's no surprise, because that is where most of their players are going; North Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Michigan, Maryland The Warriors didn't appreciably slow Walker he had 24 points, including his usual half-dozen monster jams. And they didn't slow Mayo (43 points). But by clogging the middle and crashing the boards, they took away NCH's inside game.

At 6 feet 6, Walker was NCH's biggest player. But Oak Hill goes 6-10, 6-9, 66 and 66. "Size was the difference, especially early in the game," said Oak Hill coach Steve Smith. Despite NCH's 88-74 loss, Walker said he'd rather play a game like this than win a 100-point blowout "This is what it's all about playing (the No. 1 team in the country in die USA Today poll) in front of a big crowd," Walker said.

Oak Hill knew it had to get off to a quick start to take the crowd out of the game. "That was important" Oak Hill's Smith said. "I woke up every three hours last night because I knew what might hapiien (if NCH were able to build an early lead)." He said the second-biggest crowd Oak Hill had played before until Saturday night was 6,500 in Marshall County, against Canton McKin-ley. "But that was different because they were cheering for both teams," Smith said. "We had about 80 fans out there (Saturday night).

Usually I can hear my wife, but (Saturday) I couldn't even hear her." Then, he paused. "It was kind of nice," said Smith, drawing a laugh. He also had a good line about this particular night in Cincinnati. "Some people think this (type of setting) is too big for a high school game, but we didn't make any of these 16,500 people come out to watch us," he said. As great as Mayo played, it was Walker who generated the roars: Follow-jam off the miss to start the scoring, thunder jam off a Mayo al-ley-oop midway through the first quarter, sky-jam from the right side early in the third quarter, another tomahawk jam to cut it to 67-55 early in the fourth quarter.

"I was just trying not to break any rims out there," said Walker, smiling. Oak Hill's Tywon Lawson, who is headed to North Carolina, noticed Walker. "He jumps higher than I thought" Lawson said. Walker had she rebounds, two assists and four steals. The key stat of the night Oak Hill out-rebounded NCH 46-27.

Only the shooting of Mayo and Walker had kept it reasonably close. the hill, might have been the biggest high school basketball game in local memory. It was definitely the quietest When do 16,202 people sound like Sunday morning? When does a U.S. Paul Daugherty Bank Arena sellout come with all the dramatic tension of a gallery opening? Try Saturday night. Without a rivalry, without a familiarity, high school sports are just another night out.

"It wasn't as loud as most gyms," Notebook Cook, Dunbar too much for Taft By Mike Dyer Enqu irer staff writer Ohio State University recruit Dae-quan Cook scored 19 points and had eight rebounds as Dayton Dunbar defeated Taft 5842 in the second game of the Cincinnati Scholastic Play by Play Classic Saturday night at U.S. Bank Arena. Taft coach Mark Mitchell said he is confident the two teams could meet each other in the regional final. Dunbar defeated Taft in last season's regional final. "Most of the game was about defense and who had the rebounds," Cook said.

Hopefully we will see them again." It was the third consecutive win for Dunbar (18-2) over Taft. Taft was led by junior guard Mon-sonna Torbert, who had 13 points. Senior guard Heath White had six points and nine rebounds. Taft (17-3), ranked No. 2 in the Enquirer Divisions II-IV poll, shot just 29 percent from the field.

Dunbar (18-21 Cole 6 3 16. Anderson 419, Pogue 259, Powell 2 1 5, Coo 8 2 19. Totals: 22 12 58 Tift 117-31 Bradshaw 3 0 6, Russ 0 11, Wine 3 3 9. Gray 2 4 9. lorDert 5 0 13, Revels 2 0 4.

Totals. 15 8 42 Ounbv 12 15 10 21 -58 Tall 9 7 12 14 -42 3-OMiM 2 (Cole, Cook). 4 (Torbert 3, Gray). CovCath 77, Ryle 44 Covington Catholic coach Mike Listerman believes his squad is peaking at the right time. With six losses against state-ranked teams including Elder -CovCath seems primed for a run in the Ninth Region tournament Covington Catholic senior Tun Tierney scored 19 points as the Colonels defeated Ryle 7748 in the opener of the Cincinnati Scholastic Play by Play Classic.

The Colonels (17-6) ranked No. 3 in the Enquirer Northern Kentucky coaches' poll, play at Bishop Brossart at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Raiders (10-14) shot 46 percent and CovCath shot 49 percent Ryle had 28 turnovers to CovCath's U. CovCath 117-4) Noll 5 0 12.

Young 2 04, Jacobs 2 2 6, Tierney 7 3 19, Bovaid 4 0 10, Landrum 1 2 4, Bondick 1 2 4, CaMI 3 0 6, Frommeyer 0 1 1, Gnmes 1 0 2, SchuM. 3 3 9. Totals: 29 13 77 rtytt 110,14 Maley 4 0 9. Brady 1 0 2, Nelson 3 2 8, Brown 20 5, Lykes 2 4 8. Gray 1 2 5, Day 1 0 2, Murray 1 0 2, Morgan 2 0 4, Hatfield 1 0 2, luster 10 2.

Totals 19 8 48. CoiCj 26 10 27 14 -77 Ryk) .14 14 10 10 -48 3 pwntprs 6 (Noll 2, Tierney 2, Bovard 2). 2 (Brown, Gray). The main event IN THE CROWD: Southern California coach Tim Floyd was spotted at the NCH-Oak Hill game. Floyd arrived from Los Angeles at 6:15 p.m.

and has a flight back for this morning. USC hosts UCLAat 8 p.m. today. This is the most impressive atmosphere I've seen for a high school game," Floyd said. "If almost surreal." Kentucky coach Tubby Smith also was in attendance.

NO SIGN OF ELLIS: There was no sign of NCH junior center Keenan Ellis around the floor seating. Ellis was dismissed from the team Thursday. Ellis was the Trojans' third leading scorer at U.5 points a game. LOOKING AHEAD: With OJ. Mayo and Bill Walker returning for their senior seasons, Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said he believes North College Hill "probably" will be the national preseason No.

1. Smith said he would like to play NCH next season. "We talked about it, so if they are interested in playing again it's logical to play here -1 am sure the promoter would want to play here," Smith said. The EnquirerGary Landers North College Hill's Bill Walker is grabbed by an Oak Hill Academy player while battling for a rebound Saturday night. Walker scored 24 points.

NCH: Win streak ends at 40 7 1 J7 rTT The EnquirerCara Owsley of the nation's top juniors, loss to Oak Hill Academy. vious two games with stress fracture in his foot, was too drained to meet the media afterward. Mahaffey said Mayo, who is also battling a chest cold, was cramping and dehydrated after the game. NCH saw its 40-game win streak that dated to December 2004 end. Oak Hill has 53 straight wins over two seasons.

E-mail Oak Hill Academy 137-0) lawson 7 5 21, Allen 4 4 12, Wright 4 3 13. Smith 7 5 19, Beasley 4 3 1 1, Clark 1 0 2, Jackson I 0 2, Milboume 3 2 8 Totals: 31 22 88. North CoHeia Hill 119-1) Davis 0 1 1, Walker 10 3 24, Butler 102. Mayo 12 14 43, Evans 1 0 2, Glover 102. Totals 25 18 74.

Oak Hill 21 16 24 27 -88 North Collem Hill 11 13 22 28 -74 3 OH 4 (Lawson 2, Wright 2). NCH 6 (Mayo 9, Walker). wmx jm From Page CI Oak Hill (37-0) simply had too much talent. Seven Oak Hill players are signed or committed to NCAA Division I colleges while NCH has none, although Mayo and Walker are rated among the nation's top five juniors. Oak Hill senior point guard Tywon Lawson (signed with North Carolina) had 21 points and five assists for Oak Hill.

Junior shooting guard Nolan Smith (committed to Duke) had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Other Oak Hill scorers in double figures were 6-7 senior forward Jeff Allen (signed with Virginia Tech) with 12 points, junior center Michael Beasley (committed to UNC Charlotte) with 11 and 6-6 senior forward Anthony Wright (committed to Michigan) with 13. NCH (19-1) was noticeably out-sized widiout Ellis. Oak Hill could go 6-10, 6-914 and 6-7 across the front line, while NCH's tallest lineup could go 6-6 (Walker), 6-5 (Mayo) and 6-5 (Andre Evans). "One of our goals was to be national champs, and we didn't achieve that," NCH coach Jamie Mahaffey said.

"We still have another goal that we've set, and that's to win another (Division III) state championship. We lost tonight, but we didn't quit." The Trojans fell behind by 18 points several times in the first half, the last time at 37-19 just before the break. Mayo and Walker willed NCH within 10 points of the lead a few times in the fourth quarter, but the deficit was too steep. "We got ahead, and I don't think they've been down like that all year," Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. "They have two players as good as any we've played, NCH's 0J.

Mayo, considered one scored 43 points in Saturday's but there have been teams we've seen with more talent overall." Other than Mayo and Walker, no Trojan scored until guard Damon Butler made a driving lay-in with 4:05 left in the third period. By then, NCH was down 48-33. Mayo was 12-of-30 from the field, including 5-of-ll from 3-point range. He was 14-of-15 at the foul line, had six rebounds, three assists and one turnover. Walker was 10-of-19 from the field, with seven dunks.

He had six rebounds and four steals. The rest of the Trojans shot a combined 3-for-24 (12.5 percent) from the field. Mayo, who missed NCH's pre The EnquirerGary Landers North College Hill's Damon Butler (left) tries to draw a charge against Oak Hill Academy's Nolan Smith during the first half Saturday night at U.S. Bank Arena. Oak Hill Academy won 88-74..

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