It was the game that everyone wanted, as two of the top teams around the region met for a state championship. Combine Academy vs. Liberty Heights… let the show begin.
It was going to be interesting to see which team was going to strike first and we got our answer quickly, as Combine Academy quickly made a statement by going up double-digits. Robert Dillingham was feeling it early on and it started to become contagious, as the three-ball was falling in the first half, knocking down eight 3-pointers from all over the court. The energy level just continued to build, as Combine came out swinging to earn a 41-21 halftime lead. Jonas Aidoo led Liberty Heights with eight points in the first half.
Second half, Both teams continued to bring the energy and understanding that this game wasn’t over. Liberty Heights looked to continue to get their bigs going but they also had to figure out how to slow down Combine’s offense. For much of the third, it remained around a 17-20-point lead for Combine, even though Liberty Heights had times where you may think they were able to cut into the lead.
Fourth-quarter came along and Combine looked to take time off the clock but Liberty Heights continued to apply the pressure and force Combine to shoot the ball. With shots not falling as of late, Liberty Heights was able to cut into the lead and get it into single digits late. But Combine was able to maintain a comfortable lead late from the line and secure the 71-59 victory, crowning them champions at the Phenom HoopState Championship.
Robert Dillingham 32 points
Michael Dudley 11 points
AJ Smith 11 points
Jonas Aidoo 23 points
Isaac Farah 17 points
Jeremy Baker 9 points
2023 Robert Dillingham (Combine): When the lights are bright, Dillingham simply shows and raises the level of his play and he just needed to see one shot fall for him to get on track, which he did early. He was terrific in creating off the dribble and making Liberty pay from outside.
2021 Jonas Aidoo (Liberty Heights): The big man coming in was going to be an intriguing matchup to watch and he showed why, stepping out along the perimeter with a smooth, confident release, as well as showing some impressive, fluid moves down in the paint. The future is bright for this big man and he gave you several glimpses why.