The storied basketball rivalry between Montrose Christian and Oak Hill Academy added another intriguing chapter on Wednesday in West Virginia. Mustangs junior Therence Mayimba drained a three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in the game’s third overtime to secure Montrose Christian’s 54-53 victory at the Big Atlantic Classic.
The win avenged a 65-48 loss to Oak Hill earlier this season and marked the third meeting in the last three seasons to reach at least double overtime.
“It’s rare that you have a true national rivalry between two teams, but that’s what this has become,” Mustangs Coach Stu Vetter said. “We’ve had some great games and this one was different because we’ve never had a triple-overtime game.”
Initially, it appeared Oak Hill would cruise to an easy win at an event in which the Warriors have only lost once — albeit to Montrose Christian. The Mustangs committed 15 turnovers in the first half and trailed by as many as 14 points.
Using extended defensive pressure and better ball protection, Montrose Christian (12-4) surged back to force overtime. Both teams went scoreless in the first extra period, as the Warriors held the ball for nearly three of the four total minutes. After another scoring stalemate, Oak Hill went up 53-51 on two free throws near the end of the third overtime.
On the inbounds, the Mustangs ran a play called “Blitz,” which opened up a pass down the sideline to Mayimba. The junior swingman cooly sank a three-pointer to cap an 18-point performance.
“We run that play so many times in practice, so I knew the ball was coming to me and I had to hit that shot,” Mayimba said. “For me, the game was a big step because I had been struggling with my shot. I just had to keep shooting and get my confidence back.”
Elevated play from Mayimba and Cole Harrison, who had 13 points on six-for-six shooting, will be key going forward. Montrose is without second-leading Jordan Swopshire after he was dismissed from the team in December for a violation of team rules, and following Monday’s make-up game with Freedom-Woodbridge, the Mustangs will face another test in Coolidge on Saturday. . . .
Both of the matchups between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 5 O’Connell have been moved to American University’s Bender Arena. The teams will first play at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in a battle for first place within the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. The second meeting will begin at 5 p.m. on Feb. 17.