Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 | 3 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer are back to look at the high school basketball scene. Listen to see if Keefer backs down from his preseason pick of Centennial to win the state championship.
The Findlay Prep basketball team Monday overcame another double-digit second half deficit against Montverde Academy.
And, you guessed it, the Pilots’ best player hit the game-winner. Again.
Nigel Williams-Goss scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter at the Basketball Hall of Fame’s HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass., nailing a straight-away 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap the Pilots' comeback in a 62-59 victory, their 42nd consecutive win.
Williams-Goss, a senior who is committed to Washington, also had the game-winner last April against Montverde, hitting a running jumper with one second remaining to help the Pilots climb out of an 18-point hole in the ESPN National High School Invitational Championship title game.
On Monday, Findlay trailed by 12 points with about seven minutes remaining before Williams-Goss stole the show. He had a pair of 3-point plays during the scoring rally, finished with five assists and five rebounds, made 90 percent of his free throws and committed only one turnover.
“It was just a group effort,” Williams-Goss told ESPNU’s sideline reporter after the nationally televised game. “We never stopped believing. We just came together.”
With the game tied at 59 and seconds ticking off the clock, Williams-Goss controlled the ball at the top of the 3-point arc. Last year, he took the ball to the basket and made a runner to win the game, and he scored several baskets Monday in similar fashion.
But, this time, he faked toward the basket, then pulled up and drilled a nothing-but-net 3-pointer as the clock expired. It was a clutch play from the first four-year player in Findlay’s seven-year history, helping the Pilots win a game of top-ranked opponents — Findlay No. 1 by USA, Montverde No. 1 by ESPN Rise.
“I had been getting to the lane pretty easy, so I knew the jump shot would be there,” Williams-Goss told ESPNU. “I have confidence in my jumper.”
Williams-Goss classified the win as a team effort, but for most of the comeback he was a one-man show. Montverde’s Kasey Hill, the nation’s No. 2-ranked point guard, wound up fouling out in the fourth quarter, being outplayed by the ninth-ranked Williams-Goss.
Until the Williams-Goss-led charge in the fourth quarter, Findlay was outplayed in several facets of the game, especially on the inside.
Montverde big man Dakari Johnson, a Kentucky commit and one of the nation’s top recruits for the class of 2013, posted 14 points and seven rebounds in the first half alone to help build a 28-22 halftime lead.
Johnson combined with West Virginia commit Devin Williams to help Montverde win the rebounding battle and control the inside — the duo scored all but six of Montverde’s 28 first-half points, and Williams finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
At one point midway through the third quarter, Montverde had more offensive rebounds than Findlay had total rebounds.
Montverde’s Miguel Cartagena had four 3-pointers in the second half, extending the lead to 50-38 with a long-range shot from the corner one minute into the fourth quarter. That was all the damage Montverde would do — Findlay closed the game on a 27-9 run, which included more than Williams-Goss. The Pilots also limited Johnson and Williams on the inside.
“It had to be a collective effort. All five of us had to rebound,” Williams-Goss said.
Findlay forward Christian Wood, a UNLV commit, finished with 15 points, including hitting a pair of third-quarter 3-pointers. Wood, however, is more a finesse power forward, and with the exception of a block against Williams in the fourth quarter, he couldn’t match the physical style of play of the Montverde post players. Both Johnson and Williams had double-doubles of points and rebounds for Montverde, helping their team unofficially win the rebounding battle by more than double digits.
Montverde, however, couldn’t contain Williams-Goss. Again.