Saturday, March 31, 2012 | 1:45 p.m.
Nigel Williams-Goss hit a floater with just less than 20 seconds left, and Brandon Ashley finished with 31 points as Findlay Prep erased an 18-point deficit and defeated Montverde 86-83 in overtime for the ESPN National High School Invitational Championship.
It’s the Pilots third title in four years (2009 and 10) at the tournament, which is played in Bethesda, Md.
“I pulled out everything motivational that I could,” Findlay coach Michael Peck told ESPN.com. “I tried everything, but at some point their switch went on and they got it done. It was all them. It was all them.”
Henderson-based Findlay fell behind early as Montverde, out of Florida, built a lead behind transition baskets and 3-pointers. Junior point guard Kasey Hill, who’s committed to Florida, weaved past the Pilots, who at times looked tired while playing their third game in three days.
It was the fourth game in a row for Ashley, an Arizona commit, and forward Anthony Bennett, who both played in the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago on Wednesday.
Findlay tried to chip away at the lead, but it grew to 18 in the third quarter as Montverde kept hitting shots and the Pilots missed a few easy ones.
And that’s when Ashley took over. Jumpers, layups and especially free throws — he was 13-of-14 at the line — suddenly gave Findlay life. Montverde started collapsing under the pressure, committing 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Ashley tied the game at the free-throw line and Williams-Goss forced an off-balance 3-pointer from Hill that missed the mark, sending the game to overtime.
Once there, Findlay had all the momentum and Montverde had to go deeper in its bench because of foul trouble. The Pilots took their first lead since early in the game at 80-78 with 1:26 left, a Bennett slam put them up more, yet Montverde managed to stay close and even take the lead in the final minute.
That’s when Williams-Goss went down the court, attacked the lane and sailed the game-winner into the air. Montverde missed a shot, and after two more Ashley free throws, missed its final 3-point attempt to tie the game.
“This was the best way to go out," Ashley told ESPN.com. "We fought hard and we got it done. We never got down or hung our heads. We always believed in ourselves and we got it done, man. We got it done.”
Findlay finished its season 32-1 and ranked second in ESPN’s national high-school rankings.