Who: No. 4 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) vs. No. 5 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
When: 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Where: Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
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About Findlay Prep: The Pilots, ranked No. 7 in the Super 25, have been in the DICK’S/National High School Invitational every year since its inception, winning titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012 but have not been to the championship game since.
Findlay Prep is 33-3 with the three losses coming within the span of eight days to La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) and Montverde Academy (Fla.). The team enters the tournament on a 13-game winning streak, but has not played since Feb. 28.
Kentucky signee P.J. Washington, ranked No. 14 in the ESPN 100, is the Pilots’ star and go-to player. The 6-8 forward leads the team in scoring (19.7 per game), rebounding (9.5 per game) and assists (6.3 per game). He is far from a one-man show as 6-7 Lamine Diane continues to get his footing in his second year in the United States.
The Senegalese wing is averaging more than 17 points per game, more than triple the five points per game he averaged last season. Senior Donnie Tillman averages 15 points and nearly eight rebounds, senior Justin Roberts averages 11 points and 4.5 assists and junior Reggie Chaney averages 11 points and nine rebounds.
About Oak Hill: The defending champion Warriors, ranked No. 9 in the Super 25, are back after winning the title in overtime against La Lumiere last season. Oak Hill has played in the event in all but one year when the program took a two-week tour of China instead.
More than just being in the tournament, Oak Hill comes in having reached the championship game in the last four seasons (three losses to Montverde and then last year’s victory).
Experience could be the biggest factor in the Warriors’ favor. Four of its key players are returning to the DICK’S Nationals stage. Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State) and Ty-Shon Alexander (Creighton) are making their third trips; Matt Coleman (Texas) and Devontae Shulder (Mississippi State) are making their second. Add in McDonald’s All-American forward Billy Preston (Kansas) and Oak Hill has a formidable lineup.
What to expect: Something much closer than Findlay Prep’s 78-62 victory at the Iolani Classic in Hawaii in December. Washington had 27 points, including 18 in the second half, along with 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals. Oak Hill took a 3-2 lead on a Matt Coleman three-pointer and never led after that; Findlay Prep went on a 19-2 run and led 25-15 after the first quarter. Oak Hill coach Steve Smith has said it was his team’s worst game of the season.
Findlay Prep scores – and scores a lot – averaging more than 92 points per game. That is among the most in the nation. Oak Hill can put up points too with five double figure scorers led by Wigginton (20.1 per game), but the pace of the game could be key. This is the No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed matchup so in theory it should be among the most competitive quarterfinals.