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Findlay Prep stays undefeated, advances to national semifinals

Findlay Prep basketball coach Todd Simon had seen it happen before, so when his team trailed Montrose Christian (Md.) 42-34 with 6:49 to play, he knew it was time for Nigel Williams-Goss to take over.

Simon was right.

Williams-Goss scored 11 points in the final 6:30 to help the Pilots rally for a 57-53 win in the National High School Invitational on Thursday at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, Md.

Findlay, ranked No. 1 nationally in several polls, improved to 35-0 this season and has won 54 straight games. The Pilots will play St. Benedict’s (N.J.) in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. today. The game will be televised on ESPN2 (31).

“With about six minutes left, I turned to the guy at the scorer’s table and said, ‘Here’s his time,’ and sure enough,” Simon said of Williams-Goss. “I’ve seen this before. This guy’s the best winner in high school basketball and has the will to refuse to lose.”

Williams-Goss scored a game-high 26 points. He had 11 of the Pilots’ first 15 points in the fourth, with the only other field goal coming when Gavin Schilling rebounded Williams-Goss’ missed free throw and made a layup to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 46-45 with 3:16 to play.

Williams-Goss followed that basket with a drive that put Findlay ahead 47-46 with three minutes left. It was the Pilots’ first lead since the first half.

“We’ve had a lot of experience in that area, overcoming adversity,” Simon said. “They’re very poised. Our mantra this year is just ‘next play.’ Do the next thing right.”

Montrose (19-5) cut the lead to 49-48 on a rebound bucket by Ishmail Wainright with 1:31 remaining. But Wainwright missed the chance at a three-point play, then fouled out with 57.7 seconds to go, and the Mustangs had little chance without their go-to player.

The 6-foot-6-inch, 230-pound Wainright finished with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists and teamed with Mark Williams (6-8, 230) and Cole Harrison (6-10, 240) to help Montrose control the boards, especially early in the game.

The Mustangs finished with a 33-23 rebounding advantage after outrebounding Findlay 15-5 in the first half.

“It took us a little bit to adjust to the physicality on the glass,” Simon said. “They owned their territory, and that’s kind of who they are. At the end, our guys started to match that intensity and did a much better job.”

Schilling was key in the fourth quarter, grabbing all four of his rebounds, including two for stick-backs. He scored eight of his nine points in the quarter.

Williams-Goss played all 32 minutes despite not joining the team until after the shootaround Thursday. He played in the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago on Wednesday and hadn’t practiced with the team since March 26.

“I told him going in, we’re playing three games and you’re playing 96 minutes-plus,” Simon said. “With great players, you ride the horses you rode in on and let them play.”

Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.

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