BETHESDA, Md. – Top-seeded Findlay Prep (29-1) begins its pursuit of its third National High School Invitational title in four years tonight when it faces Coolidge High (30-9) of Washington, D.C. here at Georgetown Prep.
The contest will be televised by ESPNU starting at 5 p.m. PST.
Mike Peck’s Pilots, ranked No. 2 in the nation by ESPN.com, won the event in both 2009 and 2010 but were upset in the opening round by Dwyer (Fla.), 70-61, last year.
“I think our guys are really hungry,” Peck said. “They’re going in with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.”
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The tournament features eight of the nation’s top prep and high school teams. The nation’s No. 1 rated team by ESPN.com, Oak Hill Academy (44-0), declined to participate this year.
Findlay Prep’s only loss this season was 67-66 to sixth-seeded La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) on Dec. 29. The Pilots could get a chance to avenge that loss if both teams reach Saturday’s championship game.
First up though is tonight’s game against a Coolidge team that should enjoy a home court advantage.
“They’re no slouch,” Peck said. “They’re a local public high school who has had a great year. … (Playing close to home) will be a factor for them. Fortunately for us we’ve played in environments like that.”
Two of Findlay Prep’s top players, Arizona-bound 6-foot-8 forward Brandon Ashley and 6-foot-8 senior forward Anthony Bennett, who is considering UNLV, Kentucky, Florida, Washington and Oregon, both will join the team this afternoon after helping lead the West team to a 106-102 victory in the McDonald’s All-American Game last night in Chicago. Bennett finished with nine points and six rebounds while Ashley scored six points and grabbed 10 rebounds