High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Ben Carter

No. 3 Findlay Prep beats Vegas rival

January, 21, 2012
1/21/12
8:50
PM ET


LAS VEGAS -- In a scene reminiscent of the glory days of UNLV basketball when iconic coach Jerry Tarkanian led the Runnin' Rebels to three NCAA Final Fours between 1987 and 1991, basketball was the talk of Sin City on Saturday.

It wasn't a college game, however, that had the city buzzing. The excitement surrounded a contest dubbed the Big City Showdown Challenge between POWERADE FAB 50 No. 16 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and No. 3 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.).

In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cox Pavilion for a game that sold out two days after tickets went on sale, Findlay Prep used an 18-1 second-half run to spark its 73-61 victory.

Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss led the way for Findlay Prep, scoring 21 points apiece and making big plays seemingly every time Bishop Gorman made a push. Artis also had seven assists and two steals to pace the victors.

"Artis is just comfortable out there," said Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck. "It took him a while to get used to playing and being effective in our system. He's now comfortable and confident. He may go all 32 minutes the rest of the way for us."

Findlay Prep took control early after both teams started the contest tight. A baseline jumper by Bishop Gorman's Shabazz Muhammad ended a 16-5 run by Findlay Prep and made the score 28-22 midway through the second quarter. Bishop Gorman (14-4) eventually cut its deficit to two points, but Findlay Prep's Amedeo Della Valle hit a 3-pointer to give Findlay Prep (19-1) a 33-28 lead with with 20 seconds remaining in the half.

That's when Bishop Gorman's Rashad Muhammad (nine points) hit a 3-pointer and Ben Carter followed by connecting on a 70-foot heave at the halftime buzzer to give Bishop Gorman a 34-33 lead and all the momentum heading into intermission.

But the momentum didn't last.

Findlay Prep ended the third quarter with a 13-0 run to take a 53-39 lead heading into the fourth, and the Pilots eventually grew their lead to 17 points, 58-41, in the final quarter. Bishop Gorman competed until the end and were able to cut the deficit to nine, 66-57, on a put-back layup by Shabazz Muhammad with 2:17 remaining, but the Gaels never truly threatened to complete the comeback.

Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 100 and frontrunner for ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA honors, was coming off a 37-point performance five days ago in a victory over DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.). In this game, however, he struggled from the field (9-of-25) and finished with 19 points. He also had a team-high nine rebounds.

"I take (guarding Shabazz Muhammad) personal," said Findlay Prep's Winston Shepard, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and did a good job defensively on Gorman's star. "I've been playing against him a long time and I'm a good player, too."

Findlay Prep was coming off a victory over Simeon (Chicago), the preseason No. 1 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, in a game the Pilots played without the services of Anthony Bennett, the No. 7 prospect in the ESPNU 100.

Making Findlay Prep's victory over Bishop Gorman even more impressive was Bennett did not play in this game, either. On top of that, Findlay Prep forward Brandon Ashley, No. 4 in the ESPNU 100, was in early foul trouble and finished with three points, but had a big impact in the third quarter.

"In the first minutes of the third quarter, Brandon gave us exactly what we needed -- a defensive presence," Peck said. "That's how we maintained our lead."

With its victory Saturday, Findlay Prep will now be seriously considered for the No. 2 spot in next week's POWERADE FAB 50. The Pilots have a tremendous amount of firepower on their roster and find ways to win with different contributors.

Currently, they trail unbeaten Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and two-loss Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) in the national rankings.

"When their guards play well, they are the best team in high school basketball," said ESPN director of basketball recruiting Paul Biancardi.

Findlay Prep is now 4-0 all time against Bishop Gorman. The Pilots have never lost to an NIAA school.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Hoophall Classic: Five burning questions

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
12:56
PM ET
Related: Watch the Hoophall Classic on ESPN family of networks

ESPNHS' Ronnie Flores answers the most pressing questions about this year's Spalding Hoophall Classic.

Which team has the most to prove at Hoophall?
That would be POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 Simeon (Chicago). The Wolverines do have some quality victories so far this season, but they haven't faced a team with the talent level and big-game experience of No. 6 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.). Simeon beat local rival Whitney Young (Chicago), 62-55, on Dec. 22 and No. 34 Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.), 59-56, at the Cancer Research Classic, but it was expected to beat those teams. With Dominic Artis, Nigel Williams-Goss and Amedeo Della Valle, Findlay Prep will put tremendous pressure on Simeon's backcourt when the teams meet on Monday (ESPNU, 3 p.m. ET). Simeon junior guard Kendrick Nunn had 19 points against Miller Grove and we'll put Nunn's magic number at 24 in order for the Wolverines to win this game.

Which player will have a breakout performance?
Six-foot-2 junior Jairus Lyles of No. 5 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.). He is a big-time scorer for the Stags who is well known in the D.C. area, but isn't as well known nationally as some of his teammates. Lyles made a huge impact for the Stags when they captured the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic earlier this year and his play will be key against Northwest Catholic (West Hartford, Conn.) tomorrow and No. 24 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) on Monday (ESPNU, 1 p.m. ET). According to DeMatha coach Mike Jones, he was the Stags' leading scorer halfway through last season before injuries curtailed him. Now healthy, Lyles is the X-factor in DeMatha's run for the program's sixth mythical national title.

Which team can make a big move up in the FAB 50?
No. 19 Prestonwood Christian Academy (Plano, Texas), if the Lions are on their game when they take on No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) tomorrow. We know Julius Randle and company can play with the nation's best teams (they won the City of Palms tournament), but they've been a bit inconsistent against national-level competition. Which Prestonwood team will show up? The one that won the City of Palms or the one soundly defeated by No. 3 Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) on Dec. 15? The Lions will need big performances from complementary players Zach Peters and Mickey Mitchell because Oak Hill is probably the most complete team in high school basketball.

Which FAB 50 team is most ripe to be upset?
No. 4 St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.). Coach Bob Hurley's team nearly stumbled against No. 28 St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.), but pulled out a 51-50 victory after trailing by six points entering the fourth quarter. One thing is clear -- the Friars don't have as much firepower as last season, but on Monday they could make a statement against a hungry Miller Grove team (ESPNU, 11 a.m. ET). Last season, St. Anthony's 50-point win over DeMatha Catholic at Hoophall springboarded the Friars to the program’s fourth mythical national title, but they'll be facing a dangerous opponent that desperately doesn't want to go 0-3 in nationally televised games this season.

Can the West Region's top teams compete nationally?
Yes, they can compete against the nation's top-ranked teams, but only at full strength. No. 6 Findlay Prep needs Anthony Bennett to contribute when it faces top-ranked Simeon. According to associate head coach Todd Simon, Bennett will suit up against the Wolverines, but is likely to sit out Friday against Thurgood Marshall (Dayton, Ohio) at the Flyin' To The Hoop Invitational in Kettering, Ohio. No. 24 Bishop Gorman hasn't played at a national championship level without Ben Carter and Ronnie Stanley, but both should be in the lineup when the Gaels face DeMatha Catholic. Without Carter making a double-digit scoring contribution and Stanley earning his keep down low against DeMatha's BeeJay Anya, Gorman will be hard pressed to pull off the upset.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

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