The answer escaped Oak Park senior Ochai Agbaji, at least initially. As he attempted to adequately explain his latest scoring barrage — and his ability to make it such a regular occurrence — he began by simply shrugging his shoulders.
Then he finally offered a few words.
“I think I’ve just been hot,” he said.
Succinct. And accurate.
Agbaji poured in a game-high 28 points to lead Oak Park past Liberty North 49-36 in the championship game of the Patterson Division of the William Jewell High School Holiday Classic on Saturday night.
The outing actually lowered his scoring average for the season. He’s scoring nearly 29 points per game for the Northmen, who improved to 9-0.
“The amazing thing is he’s done it with double- and triple-teams most nights,” Oak Park coach Brennan Scanlon said. “As soon as he catches it, there’s a guy on him, and there’s usually two more within a couple of feet.”
The prowess emerged in the opening quarter — heck, the opening couple of minutes — Saturday. By the end of the first quarter, Agbaji had 13 points. By the end of the first half, he had 17 on his way to the 28-point night.
A dunk. A couple of three-pointers. Ten free throws.
“I was just feeling really confident, and my teammates always seem to find me when I’m hot like that,” said Agbaji, who was selected the Patterson Division most valuable player. “I created my own shots, but they were getting me shots, too.”
Even so, it produced just a six-point lead at halftime. Liberty North (6-3) cut that margin to two early into the third quarter, but a scoring drought ensued.
No Liberty North player finished in double figures. Zane Brown led the team with eight points.
Jhaidyn Richardson added 10 points for Oak Park. He and Agbaji combined for 38. The rest of the team had 11.
Third place: Grandview 70, Lee’s Summit 69
Grandview senior Mason Taylor made a layup as time expired to lift the Bulldogs to a one-point win. DeAndre Sorrells added four three-pointers.
In a losing effort, Will Eames posted a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Fifth place: Park Hill South 64, Raymore-Peculiar 49
Park Hill South outscored Raymore-Peculiar 21-2 in the opening quarter, then cruised to a victory. Lamel Robinson scored 25 points for the Panthers.