ELIZABETH, N.J. -- Blair Academy shook off a slow start and pulled away from Plainfield H.S. for a 64-55 victory on Thursday afternoon at the Prime Time Shootout.
Despite being hobbled by an injured knee and ankle, 6-10 junior forward Charlie Villanueva earned game MVP honors by scoring 18 points.
Blair led by six points at the half, and consistently added to the lead in the second half.
A turnaround jumper by 6-8 small forward Luol Deng with 1:02 to play in the third quarter gave the Bucs a 42-31 advantage.
Deng had struggled in the first half and was mired in foul trouble, but he rebounded to finish with 16 points.
"He made big plays in the third quarter to help us pull away," Blair Head Coach Joe Mantegna said.
Blair improved to 13-8 with the victory.
"We're not putting teams away and that has been our problem," Mantegna said. "I was pleased at our execution in the fourth quarter.
The Bucs led by as many as 16 points in the final quarter, although Plainfield was able to whittle the final deficit under double digits.
Andre Dabney, a quick 5-6 senior guard, led the Cardinals with 25 points on the way to team MVP honors in defeat.
His backcourt mate, Jihad Muhammad, added 22 points for Plainfield.