boys basketball

Bass Pro T of C: No. 4 Findlay Prep, No. 10 Sierra Canyon advance to set up semifinal

Findlay Prep's P.J. Washington shoots during a victory against Republic at the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions (Photo: Guillermo Hernandez Martinez, Springfield News-Leader)

Findlay Prep’s P.J. Washington shoots during a victory against Republic at the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions (Photo: Guillermo Hernandez Martinez, Springfield News-Leader)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Top-ranked junior Marvin Bagley III of Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif) scored 15 points as the Trailblazers beat Republic (Mo.) 72-54 in the opening round of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions on Thursday.

The Tigers (11-3) narrowed the Sierra Canyon (13-1) lead to 34-31 in the second half before the the Trailblazers, the team No. 10 team in the USA Today Super 25 Expert  ran away with the game.

More Bass Pro T of C: No. 2 Montverde, No. 3 Memphis East to meet for third time

Bagley acknowledged a Republic defense that gave local teams fits in the 2016 Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament.

 “It was hard to get it inside. They pack the middle pretty well as a team in their zone,” Bagley said. “We had to find other ways to score and get buckets.”

Sierra Canyon eventually found its way with outside shots.

“We knew that if we just kept playing, our run would come,” Bagley said.

Guard Remy Martin had 11 points, seven assists, six steals and five rebounds. Cody Riley had 13 points.

Sierra Canyon finished second to Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) in the 2016 Tournament of Champions. Bagley didn’t get to play due to California transfer eligibility issues, and was anxious to take the court at JQH Arena.

“It means a lot. Last year was hard not being able to play with the team,” Bagley said. “Our only focus is winning. We’ve got one down, we’ve still got a couple more games to go.”

Sierra Canyon will play No. 4 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) at 9 p.m. ET Friday in the second round.

Findlay Prep defeated Madison Prep (Baton Rouge, La.) 77-50 in the first game of the tournament.

Findlay Prep (19-1) led by just four points at halftime, but stretched its lead to 27 points by the final horn. Findlay Prep went 21-of-31 from the free throw line. P.J. Washington, a Kentucky commit, and Lamine Diane each scored 21 points for Findlay Prep.

Washington also had nine rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.

Josh LeBlanc led the Chargers with 15 points.

Washington felt Findlay Prep picked up its pace on both ends of the floor to outrun Madison Prep to the win.

“I feel like if we run and play our game, we can beat anybody in the country,” Washington said. “We just got easy steals and easy layups.”

John Calipari was in town to watch Kentucky signee P.J. Washington (Photo: Guillermo Hernandez Martinez, Springfield News-Leader)

John Calipari was in town to watch Kentucky signee P.J. Washington (Photo: Guillermo Hernandez Martinez, Springfield News-Leader)

Washington expects three days of difficult basketball on the Pilots’ trip to Springfield.

“It’s going to be tough. We haven’t played Sierra Canyon this year, or Montverde or (Memphis) East, and they’re all top five teams so we’ve just got to bring it,” Washington said.

Washington is committed to play for University of Kentucky. Coach John Calipari was in attendance courtside at JQH Arena on Thursday night to watch Findlay Prep. Washington said he made his commitment with his professional career in mind.

“I feel like they are the easiest way to get to the NBA, and that’s what I want to do,” Washington said.

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