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Findlay Prep’s 45-game win streak falls in ESPN game

Updated Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009 | 8:09 p.m.

Findlay Prep basketball coach Mike Peck walked into his team's locker room Thursday night at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, and had to do something he's only done once before — give a postgame speech to his perennial national-power high school team following a loss.

The Pilots on Thursday erased a 14-point second-half deficit against Northland High of Columbus, Ohio, but didn't have any answers for Northland star forward Jared Sullinger in a 53-52 defeat to snap Findlay's 45-game winning streak. The game was televised on ESPN to debut the network's high school basketball coverage this winter.

The rare loss dropped Findlay's record to 77-2 under Peck. His message to the team afterward was simple — let's get ready for the next game.

"You to have to learn from it and move on," Peck said. "You have to learn from it just like you would any win or loss. If we don't get past it, we'll lose another one."

Sullinger, an Ohio State commit and the reigning Ohio Player of the Year, finished with 32 points and drained a pair of free throws with four seconds left for the game-winning points.

Findlay, the nation's No. 1-ranked team according to the ESPN poll and defending national champions, had no answers for the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Sullinger. The nation's No. 2-ranked prospect by ESPN, Sullinger also had 17 rebounds and connected on all 10 of his free throws.

"He's just so big and has such a big wingspan and ball-handling skills," Peck said. "He created a big match-up problem for us."

Sullinger outscored Findlay 16-15 in the first half to help Northland build a double-digit lead. Findlay entered averaging more than 100 points a game but did not score in the final four minutes of the second quarter.

"You just can't spot a team like that a half," Peck said. "That was the game right there. We lost the game in the first half."

Findlay (12-1) trailed 29-15 at halftime, and with 5:42 left took its first lead since the initial two minutes of the game on a 3-pointer from Jabari Brown. Cory Joseph followed by stealing the ensuing inbounds pass and made a layup, giving Findlay its biggest advantage, 44-41.

But Northland, the defending Ohio large-school state champions, retook the lead with an 8-2 run.

Joseph, the nation's No. 30-ranked recruit by ESPN, drained a jumper with 13 seconds to play that gave Findlay a 52-51 lead.

But Sullinger was fouled by Findlay's Tristan Thompson and hit both foul shots for the win. Thompson fouled out on the play, finishing with 18 points. Joseph, who was limited to two points in the first half on 1-of-6 shooting, finished with 10 points.

Findlay will be back in action Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla., in a four-day tournament hosted by Bishop Verot High.

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