NORTH BETHESDA, Md. – After claiming its third title in four years, you might say winning the National High School Invitational has become commonplace for Findlay Prep.
However, Saturday afternoon’s 86-83 championship game victory over Montverde (Fla.) Academy was anything but routine for Mike Peck’s squad.
The Pilots (32-1), who trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half, staged a furious fourth quarter rally to force overtime before eventually pulling out the win.
Junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss sank an eight-foot floater with 15 seconds remaining for what proved to be the game-winner and senior swingman Winston Shepard nailed two free throws with two seconds to go to sail the win for the Pilots.
Arizona-bound forward Brandon Ashley was the centerpiece of the dramatic Findlay Prep comeback, scoring 25 of his game-high 31 points after halftime, including eight straight in the final 1:12 of regulation to highlight a 25-9 run by the Pilots.
Montverde junior point guard Kasey Hill, a Florida commit who caused the Pilots problems much of the game with his explosive drives to the basket, gave the Eagles a 78-76 to start overtime with a layup off a nice drive but Findlay Prep came right back to tie it on an inside basket by Ashley.
The Pilots then took the lead, 80-78, after Oregon-bound point guard Dominic Artis stole the ball and fed forward Anthony Bennett who was fouled and sank two free throws.
Montverde came back to tie it again, 80-80, on a pair of free throws by Hill but the 6-foot-8 Bennett put the Pilots back with a monster slam off a nice feed by Artis to make it 82-80 with 1:15 left.
Sophomore forward D’Angelo Russell then gave Montverde its final lead of the game with a 3-pointer from the left corner with 38 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Williams-Goss’ game-winner.
Hill had a chance to put the Eagles back in front but missed on a tough drive and Shepard, a San Diego State commitment, grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He then calmly sank both free throws.
Montverde had one last chance to force a second overtime but Russell’s 3-pointer from the left side of the key didn’t draw iron.
Findlay Prep also won the NHSI in 2009 and 2010.