SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It’s been three years since Findlay Prep played St. Benedict’s Prep, but the Pilots apparently have a long memory.
“They beat us in the DICK’S Tournament (then called the National High School Invitational), the year that it was Todd Simon’s head coach year (ending a 57-game winning streak for Findlay),” Findlay Prep coach Andy Johnson said. “We remembered that and a few of our (former) players who were on our team that lost texted us and we shared a few of those texts with the team. When we say Findlay family, we really mean it and we wanted to play today for those guys that lost that game. It meant a lot to us because of that.”
Sunday at the Hoophall Classic, the No. 4 Pilots (18-0) defeated No. 13 St. Benedict’s Prep 91-67. Findlay (Henderson, Nev.) used a smothering halfcourt defense, forcing the Gray Bees (16-1) into 15 turnovers. David Beatty had 20 points for St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) on 7-for-17 shooting.
“We wanted to pressure and control the pace of the game,” Johnson said. “We tried to face David Beatty as much as we could. He’s a good player and got some good points at the end.”
Markus Howard had 26 points for Findlay Prep, making all nine shots he attempted, with six assists. P.J. Washington had 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
“When I want an assist, I give the ball to Markus,” Washington said. “Everybody knows what they’re good at, but when I pass to Markus, I know it’s going in every time. We got some stops and started rolling and never looked back.”
It was Findlay’s second game in as many days at Hoophall and for the second day, Howard got the game MVP plaque (He had 25 points in a 73-59 defeat of The Athlete Institute of Ontario on Saturday). The Pilots’ tight defense accentuated Howard’s strengths on offense: his ability to finish on the break, whether by layup or one of his six three-pointers.
“What I’m most proud of Markus is he’s becoming a complete player,” Johnson said. “He’s guarding and getting guys involved. I’m really proud of his development so far.”
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Both Howard and Washington are undecided juniors and there were plenty of big-name college coaches on hand to watch Sunday’s game. Howard said he’s played in enough big games not to notice what type of warmup Shaka Smart had on or what UNC button-down shirt Roy Williams was wearing.
“As a player for this level for so long, you get used to it,” Howard said. “When you see those big guys in the stands, it makes you play that much harder, but at the same time, for me personally, it doesn’t faze me. What we think about when we step on the floor, is defense first. That leads to our offense. We really turned it up from start to finish for the game. Today was just a day when I was feeling it. The heat check came when the buzzer went off at halftime.”