Thursday, March 29, 2012 | 6:54 p.m.
Anthony Bennett’s hectic travel schedule was a non-factor Thursday for the Findlay Prep basketball team.
Bennett, who played Wednesday night in Chicago at the McDonald’s All-American game, was back with the Pilots on Thursday in Bethesda, Md., for their quarterfinal game in the eight-team ESPN National High School Invitational Championship.
The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Bennett, who is a consensus top-10 recruiting prospect and prized target of UNLV, showed no rust in scoring a game-high 23 points to lead Findlay to an easy 79-44 victory against Coolridge Senior High of the Washington, D.C., area. Findlay advances to play St. Benedict’s at 10:30 a.m. Friday in the semifinals, looking for its third title in the past four years.
Bennett’s big body on the inside was too much for Coolridge to contain. Bennett spent a considerable amount of the game at the free throw line, connecting on a tournament-record 14-of-17 attempts in helping Findlay extend its lead. Also, he showed his versatility by calmly knocking down a 3-pointer — hence why he is being courted by the likes of UNLV, Kentucky, Florida, Oregon and Washington.
Findlay, the Henderson-based program that is ranked No. 2 nationally by ESPN, led by six points at the end of the first quarter, but outscored Coolridge 61-32 in the final 24 minutes.
Four Findlay players scored in double figures and the Pilots out-rebounded Coolridge, 60-29. Dominic Artis scored 14, Winston Shepard had 12, and Brandon Ashley had 11. Ashley, who is signed with Arizona, also played in the McDonald's game.
Friday’s semifinal game will be televised by ESPN2. St. Benedict’s of Newark, N.J., is ranked No. 15 by ESPN.