Mayo comes up short against Oak Hill

O.J. Mayo scored 43 points, but it wasn't enough to help his team overcome top-ranked Oak Hill (VA) Academy Saturday night in front of a packed house at Cincinnati's U.S. Bank Arena.

The NBA is celebrating All-Star game festivities this weekend, but Cincinnati saw it's share of high school basketball all-stars Saturday night as North College Hill battled Oak Hill Academy (VA) in the Cincinnati Play-by-Play Classic.

Oak Hill and NCH were ranked first and second in the country, respectively, coming into the game and Oak Hill will remain the top team with the 88-74 over the Trojans in front of a sellout crowd of 16,500 at U.S. Bank Arena.

NCH lost despite a 43 point performance by junior O.J. Mayo, who is regarded by many as the top junior prospect in the country. Bill Walker added 24 as the dangerous duo scored all but seven of the Trojans points.

"We had a tough time getting into a rhythm," said NCH head coach Jamie Mahaffey. "They were so big and the shots just weren't dropping for us. They doubled down on O.J. and Bill, which we knew they were going to do, but we missed some easy buckets early and Oak Hill went on a run."

NCH won the opening tip and Mayo lofted the ball up to Walker for the dunk to set the tone for an evening full of exciting basketball. This, however, would be NCH's only lead of the game despite Mayo's scoring outburst.

"He is a great player," Mahaffey said of Mayo, who was unavailable for comment after game as he was being treated for dehydration and cramps following an illness this week. "He really steps it up at big times but we just couldn't get in a rhythm tonight. We might have lost the game but we never gave up."

Oak Hill was paced by North Carolina recruit Tywon Lawson's 21 points, five rebounds and five assists. Junior guard and Duke recruit Nolan Smith double-doubled with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Oak Hill had five players score in double digits.

"Size was a big advantage for us," said Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith. "We out-rebounded them by 14 in the first half and that was a big factor in getting us the lead."

Of course, NCH was minus their big man tonight as 6-11 junior center Keenan Ellis was removed from the team late this week for disciplinary reasons.

"We're a small team and we had a hard time matching up on the glass," said Walker following the game. "You can't teach height and Keenan is 6-11, so his height is an advantage."

The Trojans got within 10 late in the game but were unable to close the gap. Smith credits taking the crowd out of the game early to maintain momentum and the lead.

"The crowd was very important tonight," Smith said. "The crowd was definitely rooting for them but we got the lead and continued to keep the lead and it was tough for them to come back."

Mayo's 43 points came from 12-30 shooting from the floor and 14-15 from the charity stripe.

"We put (Mayo) on the line too much tonight," said Smith.

With rumors and speculation flying around about Mayo and possibly Walker transferring to Oak Hill, Smith was asked how Mayo would fit into the Warrior program.

"He'd start," Smith said. "He would be doing different things for us than he does for them. They have to go to him a lot. He scored 43 and he has to do that for them to be good. But his role would be different here and will be different in college."

With approximately 10 of the top prep basketball players on the court tonight, fans were not sent home disappointed as these all-stars put on a show.

"These games are great," said Smith. "Some think it is too big, but we didn't ask these 16,000 people to come tonight, they just came."

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