SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — No. 4 Findlay Prep (Las Vegas) used its Phoenix connection to roll past Athlete Institute of Toronto 73-59 Saturday at the Hoophall Classic.
Markus Howard, a junior guard who transferred this season from Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.), scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half to the lead the Pilots (17-0). Carlos Johnson, who played for Shadow Mountain (Phoenix) two seasons ago (last season, he was at Cerritos, Calif.), gave Findlay Prep 13 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
“We played against each other a lot growing up,” said Johnson, a senior guard who has signed with UNLV. “I’m used to whipping him by 20 with my old AAU team. Me and Markus always wanted to play together and now we’re doing it in my last year and his junior year. He’s a great player as you can see, he can score whenever he wants to and I had to get on him a little in the second half, to push him a little, because he was off in the first half. I’m happy the way he responded.”
Howard said Johnson wasn’t the only teammate prodding him after Howard went 1-for-7 in the first half from the floor.
“The first half was tough shooting. It was hard for me to get in a rhythm,” Howard said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates. They came in at halftime and really got into me and told me I needed to step it up.”
Findlay led only 29-25 at the half, thwarted in part by 7-1 center Thon Maker, who had seven of his game-high 10 blocks in the first half and all but two of his 16 points in the first half.
“Thon is a good player,” Findlay coach Andy Johnson said. “He was the center of everything we did. There’s no way to shut him down because he is such a good player. The best you can do is limit his touches. Full front in the post with backside help, pressure the guards so they can’t get to him so much and push him out as far as you can.”
Coach Johnson said Howard’s and Carlos Johnson’s efforts weren’t a surprise.
“Markus is a very confident kid because he works so hard,” Johnson said. “His confidence overcomes things if he has a bad play or a bad first half. In the second half, he put us on his shoulders and brought us home. Carlos is like a bull in a china shop. He’ll go through walls to get you a win. Phoenix has been very good to us.”
Findlay Prep and Montverde Academy are the only teams in the Hoophall Classic that will play twice. Findlay will play No. 13 St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark) on Sunday while No. 3 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), which defeated Roman Catholic (Philadelphia) earlier on Saturday, will play No. 7 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) on Monday.