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Pilots’ 54-game win streak ends in tourney semifinal

The Findlay Prep boys basketball team saw its 54-game winning streak come to an end Friday. Now, the Pilots must wait to find out if their chances of winning a mythical national championship disappeared with it.

Findlay Prep, ranked No. 1 in almost every national poll, was held scoreless for the final 1:58 of regulation and lost 60-57 to St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) in a semifinal of the National High School Invitational at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, Md.

“All year we didn’t feel like anybody could beat us,” first-year Pilots coach Todd Simon said. “Today was the day we beat ourselves.”

The defending NHSI champion Pilots (35-1) could still hold on to the top spot despite the setback against fourth-seeded St. Benedict’s Prep (33-1). Findlay Prep owns a victory over No. 2 Montverde Academy (Fla.), which will meet the Gray Bees in the final at 10 a.m. today on ESPN (Cable 30).

“It’ll be interesting to see the polls,” Simon said. “Obviously, we wanted to win this event, but at the end of the day we have a pretty amazing resume. … I don’t think anyone else could have done what we did, and I’m proud of that.”

Nigel Williams-Goss led Findlay Prep with 20 points, five assists and four rebounds, and his floater in the lane put the Pilots up 57-56 with about two minutes to play. But the McDonald’s All-American missed an 8-footer with 12 seconds remaining and the Pilots down by three points. After Mike Young missed the front end of a one-and-one for St. Benedict’s with 10.8 seconds left, Williams-Goss’ last-second 3-pointer from the top of the key missed to the right.

“He had a clean look at the top of the floor,” Simon said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. They were great looks; they just didn’t fall.”

Williams-Goss, who collapsed to the floor after the final buzzer, also had a key turnover with 30 seconds to play and Findlay Prep trailing by one when his pass in the key handcuffed Gavin Schilling.

St. Benedict’s converted 21 turnovers into 21 points, the biggest coming with about a minute left when Isaiah Briscoe picked Allerik Freeman at midcourt and scored to put the Gray Bees ahead, 58-57.

Syracuse recruit Tyler Ennis led St. Benedict’s with 19 points and Briscoe added 14 points, including seven in a row during a key stretch in the fourth quarter. Denzell Taylor finished with nine points and 12 rebounds (nine offensive).

Findlay Prep fell behind by as many as 11 points in the first half and trailed 49-41 after three quarters until a 12-0 run to start the fourth. Freeman (10 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the latter of which put the Pilots on top for the first time since early in the first quarter, and Schilling’s block ignited a fast break that led to Williams-Goss’ three-point play and a 53-49 lead with 4:30 left in the fourth.

Stanford Robinson had 13 points for the Pilots, and Schilling finished with 10 points and six rebounds.

“Usually, we make runs,” Simon said. “Unfortunately, it just didn’t stick for us. We made one less play than we needed to.”

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