Springfield, Mass. – Nigel Williams-Goss was there to take the last shot Monday and Kasey Hill wasn’t and that was the difference.
Williams-Goss, a senior at Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), had 18 of his 26 points in the final quarter, including the game-winning three-pointer, in a 62-59 defeat of Montverde (Fla.) Academy in the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
The Pilots, who trailed by 11 points through three quarters, have won 42 in a row.
“I was telling (teammate) Chris Wood, ‘It’s cool, let’s be patient, we’ve been here before,’” said Williams-Goss, who has signed with Washington. “Let’s stay poised and keep fighting. “Any competitor, any high-level player, they want that last shot … especially a point guard, and I have supreme confidence in myself.”
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With the win, Findlay (23-0) holds onto the top spot in the USA TODAY Super 25 boys basketball rankings. Montverde (20-2) falls back two spots, to No. 4. The last time the teams met, Findlay came back from an 18-point deficit in April to win the National High School Invitational 86-83 in overtime. Williams-Goss had 10 points in overtime.
“I told the guys it was just liked we practiced and I think the light went on,” Findlay Prep coach Todd Simon said. “We knew what we had to do, that it would be a challenge and we would need some things to go our way. Once they gave it a little sense of urgency, it kind of took off a bit.”
Montverde was hurt when Hill, its own elite point guard who has signed with Florida, fouled out with 3:57 to go and Montverde ahead 56-45.
“The officiating was horrendous,” Montverde coach Kevin Boyle said. “Kasey has a second foul, laying on the ground, where he tries to draw a charge and they don’t call it and he calls a trip on him when he’s not even moving his feet. And then(T)he last foul was touchy-touchy. If anybody fouled, it was Dakari (Johnson). It just changed the whole game. If the officiating is better, we win by 15 points.”
The Eagles built their early lead on the backs of their two big men, Johnson and Devin Williams. Johnson had 17 points and eight rebounds, but only two points and one rebound in the fourth quarter. Williams had 16 points and 15 rebounds. Johnson is a consensus top-15 recruit and has committed to Kentucky. Williams, ranked No. 85 by ESPN, has signed with West Virginia.
“Devin has played like this the whole year,” Boyle said. “I tell people, I don’t know how he’s not in the top 30 nationally.”
Bringing on the defense: St.Anthony (Jersey City) might not have the team it did last season when Kyle Anderson, now at UCLA, played for the Friars, but there’s one constant for the program: defense. The No. 7 Friars stopped Tift County (Tifton, Ga.) 60-54 in the Hoophall Classic. It was the team’s 78th consecutive victory but the closest margin in two years.
“Our coaches scouted this team,” said St. Anthony guard Josh Brown, who had 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists. “Without that scouting report, we probably would have lost. … We picked up their tendencies, and it helped us turn them over a few times and that’s what helped us win. We pretty much knew they had two good shooters. They played a good game but we shut them down when it mattered the most.”
St. Anthony gets another test Feb.1 when it plays No. 8 St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark), which is 16-0.
Windy City warriors: All three Chicago teams that played in the Hoophall Classic came away with victories. St. Rita’s defeated Lake Clifton (Baltimore) 77-50 and No. 2 Whitney Young topped No. 17 Long Beach Poly 85-52. The latest Chicago victor was No. 10 Simeon (Chicago), which defeated No. 12 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 81-68 on Monday behind a 27-point effort by power forward Jabari Parker.
It was a better result than Simeon’s 75-50 loss to Findlay Prep in last year’s Hoophall Classic. But Parker, a Duke recruit who has missed much of the season with an ankle injury, was far from satisfied.
“We won, but I didn’t get enough rebounds,” he said. “I feel good. I’m able to play the whole game. I thank God for my parents and all the people around me who have been pushing me to go to rehab.”
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @jimhalley.