WHEELING, W.Va. – Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) forward P.J. Washington won’t go as far as to say that he didn’t give any thought to the No. 8 Pilots highly-anticipated matchup against No. 1 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) Saturday at the Cancer Research Classic, but it was more fleeting than anything.
“I thought about it, but not too deep,” Washington said. “I wanted to focus on the game we had in front of us because we were playing a good team. We had to give them our full attention.”
The tunnel vision helped.
Washington scored 16 points, grabbed five rebounds, swiped five steals and handed out seven assists with no turnovers to lead the Pilots past First Love Christian (Washington, Pa.) 99-78 Friday at the Cancer Research Classic.
Pilots wing Lamine Diane was named MVP of the game after posting 20 points, five assists and four rebounds in the win. David Collins led the Knights with 31 points.
“I felt like we played pretty well and now we’re on to the next one,” said Washington, a Kentucky signee. “I’m definitely looking forward to playing La Lumiere because they’re No. 1. We feel like we’re No. 1 and we feel like we’ve been disrespected in the rankings. We’ll see tomorrow. It’ll be fun.”
The Pilots could potentially be shorthanded; wing Donnie Tillman went down with an injury on a drive to the basket late in the third quarter.
His status for Saturday’s game is unknown according to Pilots coach Paul Washington Sr.
“We’re waiting to see on Donnie, so that’s a concern,” Washington Sr. said. “We lost our sixth man, Spencer Washington, at the tournament in Hawaii too, but injuries are a part of the game. Our motto is next man up.”
Diane said, while he’s looking forward to playing the Lakers, it won’t be an opportunity to build confidence going forward. Not sitting at 18-0 with wins over teams like No. 5 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and No. 19 Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah.).
“We’re already a confident team,” Diane said. “I feel like we can beat them if we play the way we know how to play. We’re ready.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY