A tall, talented Houston team with several future Division I basketball players eliminated Oak Ridge 77-45 in a Class AAA state semifinal tournament game in Murfreesboro on Friday.
Oak Ridge (28-6) took an early 6-0 lead in the BlueCross Basketball Championships game at Middle Tennessee State University. But after Houston (22-3) took the lead with about three minutes left in the first quarter, the Mustangs never gave it up and they led by as many as 33 points.
Still, Oak Ridge was down by only eight points, 29-21, at halftime.
However, the Mustangs outscored the Wildcats 33-10 in the third quarter and had a 62-31 lead going into the final quarter. Houston senior forward Zander Yates (6-foot-8) scored 14 points in less than two minutes in the third quarter to help open up that lead for the Mustangs.
Houston, a team from Germantown east of Memphis, had four starters, including Yates, who are 6-foot-6 or taller. Oak Ridge had one, 6-foot-8 senior center Jonathan Milloway. The Mustangs had a rebounding advantage, 40 to 27, and they also shot 50 percent from the field (26 of 52) and almost 50 percent from beyond the three-point line (11 of 23).
Houston had 6-foot-6 senior Jonathan Lawson, who has signed with Oregon and whose honors include Class AA Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year. He led all players Friday with 20 points scored. Lawson also had five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals. He also made four three-point shots.
Playing in the championship game on Saturday, he has a chance to win three titles at three different schools, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. (Lawson was on the Memphis East team in 2018 and Wooddale in 2019.)
Milloway led Oak Ridge with 15 points and seven rebounds in the semifinal game on Friday. He fouled out with five fouls in the final minute. Milloway will play basketball at Carnegie Mellon University.
Besides Lawson, the Mustangs also had 6-foot-10 senior center Jerrell Colbert, who has signed with LSU, and 6-foot-9 senior forward Mason Miller, a Creighton commitment. Lawson, Colbert, and Miller have been considered the top three ranked seniors in Tennessee, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Miller led all players with eight rebounds Friday. He also had 12 points, two assists, and two steals for Houston.
Colbert had six rebounds, along with five points, two blocks, and two assists.
Besides his 14 points for the Mustangs in the third quarter, Yates also had three rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
Also scoring in double digits for Houston with 10 points was senior point guard T.J. Madlock. He also had six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Madlock has had offers from Florida Atlantic, Little Rock, and New Orleans, among others, the Commercial Appeal reported.
Besides Milloway, no Oak Ridge player was in double digits scoring. Senior guard Johnathan Stewart scored seven points for the Wildcats. He also had two rebounds and three steals.
Juniors Lucas Searcy and Kell Slater (four assists) scored six points each for the Wildcats, and senior Jeremy Miller had four points, along with five rebounds.
As a team, Houston finished with 10 steals, compared to four for Oak Ridge, and seven blocks, compared to one for Oak Ridge.
Both teams had 14 turnovers.
Oak Ridge advanced to the semifinal game by beating Siegel 68-57 in a quarterfinal game on Thursday. Houston advanced by defeating Clarksville 70-58 in another quarterfinal game Thursday.
Houston will play Cane Ridge (16-0) in the Class AAA state championship game in Murphy Center at MTSU at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 20. Cane Ridge, which played a limited schedule due to COVID-19, advanced to the championship game by rallying from a 19-point deficit in the first half to defeat Collierville in the other semifinal game at MTSU on Friday.