The William Chrisman boys basketball team had a stiff challenge ahead of it in more ways than one Tuesday.
Not only did the Bears have to find a way to defeat No. 8 state-ranked Oak Park, to defeat them, they had to try to stop a highly sought-after Division I recruit in Ochai Agbaji. That’s a tough task for any team and it was for them at home.
Agbaji had another monster game, scoring 35 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out five assists to lead the Northmen to an 82-59 blowout of Chrisman.
There is a reason why the Oak Park senior has received many offers, including a recent one from Kansas. Ogbaji showed that he was able to score in the post, drive to the basket and shoot the 3-pointers, making him extremely difficult for the Bears to guard.
Perhaps his most valuable asset on Tuesday was being able to draw fouls as he made made 14 of 18 free throws.
“He’s a great all-around player,” Chrisman assistant coach Eric Daniels said. “He’s one of the best in the city.”
He also got some help from his teammates as three other Northmen scored in the double digits. Trent Larkie had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Ahmad Louis scored 13 and Jaidyn Richardson added 10.
Larkie made a trio of 3-pointers to help the Northmen take a 23-14 lead going into the second quarter. Meanwhile, Chrisman’s Dawson Herl had a good first quarter from behind the arc himself, nailing three of his four 3-point attempts in the period.
“I thought he shot the ball really well,” Daniels, speaking for ailing head coach Jake Kates, said of Herl, who finished with a team-high 20 points. “He’s a lot better at picking a choosing his spots to shoot and that showed tonight.”
But the Northmen kept the Bears at arm’s length for most of the game. Chrisman cut the lead to eight on a couple of occasions in the second, including when Zachariah Rowe made it 38-30 after hitting a pair of free throws.
Oak Park ended the quarter on a 5-0 run however, ended by a last second foul and a pair free throws from Agbaji, making it 43-30 at halftime.
Chrisman (8-14, 2-3), which has now lost five straight, never got any closer than 12 points from there as it went into the fourth trailing 64-44.
Rowe finished with 10 points for the Bears.