NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Blair Academy streaked to a 12-0 lead out of the gate, staving off Worcester Academy for a 64-53 victory on Saturday afternoon at the Boys Club Holiday Classic.
Luol Deng carried Blair in the first half, scoring 12 of his 16 points as the Bucs opened up a 29-18 lead at the half-time break.
Worcester recovered from the initial sting of the 12-0 run to cut the deficit to 21-17, but Deng capped an 8-1 run with a pretty finish just before the half buzzer to restore the double digit lead.
Villanueva picked up his play in the second half, scoring 10 of his team high 18 points as the Bucs opened up a 49-29 lead late in the third quarter. He also added four rebounds and six blocks.
To their credit, the Hilltoppers never quit, and crawled back to within 52-42 when Steve Hailey found Carl Elliott for a deuce with 4:19 remaining in the contest.
After pressuring Blair's Patrick Davison into a quick turnover, Worcester had a chance to slice the lead to single digits.
However, the Hilltoppers failed to convert, and a tough basket by Deng on a double clutch jumper in the lane, followed by a Davidson three point play pushed the lead back to 57-44 with 2:33 to play.
Deng was named tournament MVP for his fine overall play. He grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out four assists as Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Blue Devil Asst. Coach Chris Collins watched his play all weekend long.
Blair also got key contributions from Davidson (10 points), Mike Beers (seven) and Roberto Felipe (six points), the latter of whom was especially instrumental in curtailing the effectiveness of Hailey.
In the absence of Providence bound shooting guard Dwight Brewington (serving a suspension), Carl Elliott stepped up to score 18 points for Worcester. Sam Kaplan (Yale) pitched in 10 points and Hailey nine for the Hilltoppers, who fell to 7-1 with the loss.
Blair improved to 10-0 with the win, avenging a pair of close losses to Worcester last season. The Bucs lost to the Hilltoppers in the championship game of the 2001 Boys Club Holiday Classic last December.
Worcester is off for the Christmas break and won't return to action until January, while Blair will play in a tournament in Raleigh, N.C., from Dec. 27-30.