Commentary

Sullinger has final say against Findlay Prep

Updated: December 17, 2009, 11:56 PM ET
By Ronnie Flores | ESPN RISE

One would expect that the Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) basketball team could overcome adversity, especially when considering it had won 45 games in a row.

Findlay Prep, the No. 1 team in the ESPN RISE FAB 50, indeed battled adversity in a matchup with No. 13 Northland (Columbus, Ohio) at the Rike Center in Westerville, Ohio, on Thursday night. In the end, the Pilots came up short of a miraculous come-from-behind victory, as Northland pulled out a 53-52 upset in a feature game of ESPN's Old Spice High School Showcase.

Leading the way for Northland was power forward Jared Sullinger, the No. 2 player in the ESPNU 100. The Ohio State-bound Sullinger finished with 32 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field and 17 rebounds.

Ohio's reigning Mr. Basketball was a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line, none bigger than the two he canned with four seconds remaining after Findlay Prep's Tristan Thompson was whistled for his fifth foul while closely guarding a driving Sullinger 25 feet from the basket.

Findlay Prep (12-1) had taken a 52-51 lead with approximately 12 seconds remaining when point guard Cory Joseph executed a spin move in the paint and nailed a pull-up jump shot.

Northland led 39-35 entering the fourth, and the teams went back and forth in the final period. The Pilots took their first lead since 4-2 when junior Jabari Brown nailed a 3-pointer to make it 42-41 early in the quarter following a blocked shot by Thompson, but they could not sustain the lead.

Thompson, the No. 11 player in the ESPNU 100 and bound for the University of Texas, scored a team-high 18 points in a losing effort.

"We performed the way we play and practice, we didn't try anything new," said Northland coach James "Satch" Sullinger, the father of Jared. "I'm so proud of our kids."

Northland (2-0) successfully slowed the pace of the game and got the ball inside to Sullinger in crucial situations. With a lineup that features five future Division I players, Findlay Prep was able to overcome a 29-15 halftime deficit by scoring 20 third-quarter points. Northland, aided by a partisan crowd cheering its every move, matched the Pilots' intensity and made enough free throws down the stretch to snap Findlay Prep's win streak at 45. The Pilots had beaten Christian Life Center (Houston, Texas) 96-80 on Tuesday.

The Pilots came into the contest averaging 97 points per game and allowing less than 65 points.

It was the first loss for Findlay Prep as a fourth-year school eligible to be included in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 and other various polls. Last year, in its first year as a four-year program, Findlay Prep went 33-0 and capped its season by winning the inaugural ESPN RISE National High School Invitational in Bethesda, Md.

Findlay Prep's last loss occurred on March 6, 2008, 75-73 to Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Va.), when the Pilots were a program that allowed fifth-year players on the roster.

Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck suffered only his second loss in his three-year tenure and now owns a 77-2 record.

Barnes powers Ames past Waukegan: In Game 2 of Thursday's ESPN Old Spice High School Showcase, FAB 50 No. 24 Ames (Ames, Iowa) downed Waukegan (Waukegan, Ill.) 87-59 at Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum.

Harrison Barnes, the No. 1 recruit in the ESPNU 100 headed for North Carolina, led Ames with 26 points and 13 rebounds in a surprisingly easy victory for the Little Cyclones. Waukegan, which endured a six-hour bus ride to Ames, had no answer in trying to slow down Barnes and Northern Iowa recruit Doug McDermott on the boards. Ames outrebounded the visitors 38-24.

McDermott is the son of Iowa State coach Greg McDermott.

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