The Greatest HomeSchool Championship Game
As the Boys’ Varsity Championship Game was being played, I began thinking that it might be the greatest HomeSchool varsity Championship game ever played. The greatest games that I had ever seen before were:
The Greatest Championship Game had been the Boys’ Varsity Game in 2004, featuring HCYA and FEAST. The teams traded the lead four times in the final minute, with HCYA winning on a buzzer-beating, rebound tip-in to win in front of a packed Sawyer Center holding 4,500 fans.
Overall Greatest Games (non Championship):
- 2004 Boy’s Semi Final Game - HCYA beat the Fort Worth Warriors in triple overtime.
- 2000 Boy’s Semi Final Game – The OKC Storm beat the MHEA Eagles in triple overtime.
However, on Friday night, March 14, 2014, I believe we witnessed not only the greatest Championship game, we witnessed the greatest homeschool game ever played. Here is why:
The 7,000 fans at the Hammons Fieldhouse is largest crowd ever to see a HomeSchool game. It also had more online viewers than any HomeSchool game in history. The crowd was involved in the game, and it was electric.
The game featured the two highest-ranking players in HomeSchool Basketball history. These are the first two HomeSchool boys to homeschool through their senior year and to sign with a Major Conference D 1 University.
Storm’s Chauncey Collins is a Texas Christian University signee (Big 12)
HCYA’s Justin Jackson is a University of North Carolina signee (ACC)
The Role Players
The Storm’s junior Players have won six Gold Balls at 10u, 12u, 14u, 16u.
HCYA has 4 key starters who have had significant experience in championship game atmospheres, and a bench composed mostly of sophomores who won the 4A 16u Gold Ball this year
Player Historical Point of View
This was a rematch. In the 2013 Undisputed National Championship Game, Chauncey Collins scored a record 22 fourth quarter points to lead the Storm back from 7 down to upset overall #1 seed HCYA.
Justin Jackson, a McDonald’s All American, was playing in his 5th consecutive Undisputed Varsity National Championship Game.
Program Historical Point of View
The game featured the two most historically successful Boys Varsity teams. HCYA entered the game with eight Boy’s Varsity Undisputed National Championships, the Storm with seven.
The game featured the two most successful programs in NCHBC History – the Storm has 56 Undisputed Gold Ball Championships, HCYA has 42. (No other program is close).
Hero and Villain
The game featured a hero - Justin Jackson is one of the most beloved and respected homeschool players ever.
The game featured a villain - the OKC Storm’s history of success causes many fans to root against them.
While the ingredients were there, not all games live up to their billing. This one did:
It was the highest scoring Championship Game, even before overtime.
It was the first Double Overtime Championship Game.
In regulation, Collins and Jackson scored 42 and 41 points respectively.
The Fourth Quarter Dual - With the game on the line, Jackson put HCYA on his back, scoring 17 of his team’s 18 fourth quarter points. Not to be outdone, Collins scored 18 of his team’s 22 in the fourth quarter.
A Coach’s Point of View
As I watched the game, I noticed the following games within the game that had a huge impact on the result:
Guarding Collins - Early in the game, HCYA decided to play Chauncey man-to-man and challenge him on every shot. This strategy was effective as he missed 3 layups in the first quarter. But as the game progressed, Chauncey made a key adjustment and started employing double moves and pump fakes to use HCYA’s aggressiveness to create contact and get to the line. During the season, the Storm was a balanced scoring team, with Collins averaging 28 of the Storms 71 points per game. But when teams play straight-up man-to-man like HCYA did, he was virtually unguardable, averaging 48 points a game. (He had 58 Friday night). In those games, the Storm was 5-0.
Guarding Jackson – The Storm chose to mix in zone defense, man-to-man and doubling Justin when he got the ball. But he still dropped 41 Points on them – what an amazing accomplishment.
Collins’ Approach – Chauncey took what HCYA gave him. Because he could get by his man whenever he wanted to, he lived in the lane and on the line.
Jackson’s Approach – Justin was determined to take the game over and not to be out played, especially in the fourth quarter. And he was spectacular.
Foul Management - HCYA’s depth was a little suspect, and as a result, Coach Mike Decker decided to allow his starters to play with foul trouble. On the other hand, Coach Kurt Talbot managed fouls in a more traditional way and sat players with foul trouble. While the foul count was virtually even in regulation, 27-23, HCYA had two starters foul out in regulation, (Hughes in the 3rd quarter and Jackson late in the 4th) and two starters enter OT with 4 fouls (both fouled out in overtime). On the other hand, the Storm was able to spread out their fouls, with only one starter (Malone) fouling out, and only one entered OT with 4 fouls. (He fouled out in overtime).
Storm Patience – The Storm played from behind most of the game but never seemed to panic. When they won the jump in the second overtime, the Storm decided to hold the ball. In spite of the crowd’s displeasure, the Storm confidently stuck to their plan, and it worked.
Break Out Game – Sophomore Elijah Lee of HCYA, what a game. Truly a break out game for a player with a huge upside.
Final thought - Coach Decker’s strategy to challenge Collins gave HCYA a chance to play from the lead. Combined with Jackson’s determination to put the team on his back in the fourth quarter, this kept HCYA in the lead and put them within 13 seconds of pulling of the upset. But when Jackson fouled out, Coach Talbot’s strategy of resting players in foul trouble gave the Storm greater firepower, as their Big Gun was still in the game. Collins went on to score 17 more points (16 in overtime), for a Championship Game record 58 points. I want it to be clear that I don’t fault Coach Decker’s strategy. When you’re the underdog, you sometimes have to gamble, and he was 13 seconds away from pulling off the upset.
Well played by both teams. In this game, it was truly a shame that someone had to lose.
Watch the Game - and you decide - Click Here
Written by Tim Flatt