DICKS Nationals Game 2
By Christopher Lawlor
NEW YORK – When the final buzzer sounded on Thursday afternoon, there would be no miracle finishes or glitzy trophy celebrations. The defending champions and one of the favorites here are done.
Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) moves on.
In a shooting performance that Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) would soon forget and Findlay Prep’s decisive 12-4 run early in the fourth quarter gave the Pilots a 77-65 victory in the quarterfinals of the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament at Christ the King High School’s Father John Savage Memorial Gymnasium.
“At halftime I challenged the kids,” Findlay coach Paul Washington said. “We got away from the transition game in the second and third quarters. We started running again and scored in transition and played defense.”
Up next for Findlay is top-seeded La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) or Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah) in the semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. EDT (on ESPN2).
The Pilots (34-3) took a five-point edge and turned it into 13 at 61-48 with 5:08 left in the game. Findlay began running a delay game, using up most of the 30-second shot clock, and crushed the Warriors on the offensive glass and hustling after loose balls.
“Our shooting was atrocious today; no doubt about it,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith, whose team won it a year ago, said. “For some reason there’s a gap between us and them [Findlay].”
At 6-foot-8, junior Reggie Chaney was a force for the winners or as Paul Washington called him “a bull.” Chaney totaled 21 points and 9 rebounds. He was a perfect compliment to Kentucky-bound forward PJ Washington’s all-around game that manufactured 22 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
“We’re playing more as a team; it doesn’t matter who scores. We just wanted to win,” PJ Washington said.
Lamine Diane, an uncommitted 6-7 senior forward, poured in 21 points on 10 of 13 shooting and grabbed 4 rebounds in the victory.
“I told Lamine [Diane] before the game he’d score at least 20 points; he’s a very underrated player who only improved since the summer,” Paul Washington said.
Findlay dominated the inside game, outscoring the Warriors, 46-22, in the paint. OHA shot a frigid 35.7% (25 of 70) from the floor and Lindell Wigginton, who will next suit up for Iowa State in the fall, scored 13 points but only went 4 of 19 from the floor, illustrating the frustrating afternoon.
Billy Preston dropped in 21 points, sinking 9 of 14 shots, and had 9 rebounds. Ty-Shon Alexander had 11 and Devontae Shuler added 9 for the Warriors (39-5).
It was the second meeting of the season between the perennial powers, who have combined to have won four DICK’S Nationals titles (three by Findlay). The Pilots won the first time out, 78-62, in the championship game of the Iolani Classic in Honolulu.
“That was by far our worst game of the year,” Smith said. “I thought today we’d try to avenge that game. Today we played well in spurts but couldn’t sustain it.”
Findlay regained its form in the third and led by five points at 49-44. PJ Washington hit for 9 points, half of his team’s 18 points in the period.
Oak Hill built their largest lead of six points at 48-42 with two minutes remaining in the third and settled
With the game back on the mainland and 5,000 miles from the south Pacific, Oak Hill was far more focused and rallied in the second to go up 26-23 with 3:38 left after falling behind by seven points in the opening three minutes of the contest.
Oak Hill carried a slim 32-31 lead into halftime as Preston awoke the scoring 8 points. Alexander did the damage from the perimeter, hitting 3 of 4 3-pointers for 9 points and Wigginton added 8. Oak Hill forced 11 turnovers
With 6:31 left in the half, Washington picked up his third personal foul but remained in the game. He scored 8 points but the Pilots were boosted by 12 from Lamine Diane, who made 6 of 8 shots and 6 rebounds and 3 points from Donnie Tillman. Chaney contributed 8 points and snared 5 boards
Findlay, which crashed out of the DICK’S Nationals in the first game a year ago, came out on fire, scoring the first seven points before an Oak Hill timeout. After that Oak Hill calmed down and only trailed 18-17. Preston’s back-to-back jumpers from the foul line in final 30 seconds brought the Warriors back to within a point.
Preston, who signed with Kansas, jetted into New York from Chicago early Thursday after playing in the McDonald’s All American Game at the United Center.
“I got maybe three hours of sleep and had to catch a plane; I was OK in the game but I’m really tired now,” Preston said.
PJ Washington also played last night in Chicago.
“I tried to sleep on the plane and hydrate with water; I’m sure I’ll sleep good tonight,” he said.