When the final buzzer sounded, one Montrose Christian player darted for his family in the seats. Another claimed the championship trophy and walked around the court with it held high above his head. Two teammates cried. Another proudly waved his home country’s flag.
Top-ranked Montrose Christian had just outlasted Oak Hill Academy, 71-64 in double overtime, to win the National High School Invitational basketball tournament on Saturday at Georgetown Prep.
“That was a great basketball game,” Montrose Christian Coach Stu Vetter said. “Anybody who didn’t enjoy that game can go somewhere else.”
Tournament most valuable player Tyrone Johnson’s driving basket with 16 seconds left forced overtime for the Mustangs (25-1). Then forward Justin Anderson — a secondary option on the play — made a three-pointer from the right side with two seconds left to force another extra four-minute period.
“I must say, that’s the biggest shot of my life,” said Anderson, a junior who last month committed to Maryland. “Actually. . . [the defender] had his hand up and made a great contest and the ball rubbed off his hand a little bit. The ball I shot, it might have been a little long but with the help of his hand it was all net.”
Finally, Tyler Hubbard’s three-pointer in the second overtime and a spinning basket in the lane by Venezuelan native Michael Carrera gave Montrose Christian some breathing room.
Johnson scored all but two of his 21 points after halftime, Carrera added 20 points and 13 rebounds and Anderson had 15 points.
The teams have had some fabled games over the years, There was Montrose’s 74-72 victory in 2006 when Adrian Bowie scored at the buzzer in a game that featured future NBA and college stars Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Nolan Smith and Greivis Vasquez; Oak Hill finished 40-1 that season. The Warriors won the teams’ past four meetings before Carrera had a big game in a 70-62 double-overtime victory two months ago.
On Saturday, neither team led by more than seven points. Oak Hill (29-4) led for much of regulation, but Montrose rallied from a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. Johnson made two free throws, Oak Hill star guard Quinn Cook missed the front end of a one-and-one, then Johnson drove the lane to tie it 52-52 with 16 seconds left.
Cook, who was the All-Met Player of the Year last season at DeMatha, had a chance for a storybook ending, but his three-pointer from the right wing was a bit strong and caromed off the back of the rim.
“It felt great, that’s the shot I always practice in the gym and in my back yard,” said Cook, who finished with 25 points. “This hurts. There is no better way to end your career that back home against your rival in your home town.”