DICK'S Nationals quarterfinal preview: Findlay Prep (Nev.) vs. Miller Grove (Ga.)

DICK'S Nationals quarterfinal preview: Findlay Prep (Nev.) vs. Miller Grove (Ga.)

Geico High School Nationals

DICK'S Nationals quarterfinal preview: Findlay Prep (Nev.) vs. Miller Grove (Ga.)

By

Markus Howard led No. 4 Findlay Prep to its second win in as many days at the Spalding Hoophall Classic. (Photo: Bob Blanchard, RJB Sports).

Markus Howard (right) and Findlay Prep head to the DICK’s Nationals (Photo: Bob Blanchard, RJB Sports).

Who: No. 3 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) vs. No. 6 Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.)

When: 6 p.m. ET, Thursday

Christ The King, Middle Village, N.Y.

TV: ESPNU

About Findlay Prep: The Pilots are 28-1 and riding a 10-game winning streak, entering the tournament. Their lone loss was in late January to Nevada rival Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 77-71 in the Big City Showdown. The Pilots have wins against two other teams in the field, beating Wasatch Academy (Utah), 79-61 in mid-December in Las Vegas and St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) 91-76 at the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass. Wasatch and Findlay would meet in Friday’s semifinals if both schools win Thursday.

All-American Alterique Gilbert led Miller Grove to a Georgia state title (Photo: Miller Grove basketball)

All-American Alterique Gilbert led Miller Grove to a Georgia state title (Photo: Miller Grove basketball)

Findlay Prep has been in the DICK’S/National High School Invitational every year since its inception, winning titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012 but has not been to the championship game since.

Findlay Prep is led by a stellar junior class that includes five-star power forward PJ Washington, ranked among the top 25 players in the Class of 2017; guard Markus Howard, who was the state of Arizona’s leading scorer last season before transferring to Findlay; and forward Tristan Clark, a Baylor signee. But the senior class is strong too with shooting guard Carlos Johnson, a UNLV commit signee and point guard Skylar Mays, a Baton Rouge native who is returning home to play for LSU.

About Miller Grove: Coach Sharman White took his team back to the top of the mountain with its seventh state title in eight years. Miller Grove beat Allatoona (Acworth) 50-48 to win the Class AAAAA crown.

This will be the program’s first appearance at the DICK’s Nationals because Georgia’s state association previously did not allow teams to play beyond the state finals. Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) opened the door last year for Georgia schools when the state approved its participation. “Our ultimate goal has always been to win a Georgia state championship and we know without that accomplishment, we would not have received this invitation,” White wrote in his monthly blog for USA TODAY High School Sports. “Participating in the DICK’s National tournament does not in any way overshadow our state championship, it only enhances it.”

When you talk about Miller Grove, the conversation starts with McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American Alterique Gilbert, a point guard heading to UConn. Gilbert was named American Family Insurance ALL-USA Second Team this week. He leads a team that has four other seniors play prominent roles: forwards Colin Young and Raylon Richardson and guards Naquante Hardy and Aidan Saund.

What to expect: The nightcap of Day 1 should provide an interesting matchup with a Findlay Prep team that averages more than 100 points per game and usually is way ahead by halftime. Miller Grove hit 100 three times this season but has been a good defensive team and has been in more close games if it comes down to the end. A backcourt duel between high-scoring Gilbert and Howard could ignite the crowd.

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports