NEW YORK – Findlay Prep will play on, while Rainier Beach of Seattle saw its undefeated season ended.
Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) opened the third quarter with a decisive 17-6 run en route to a 67-59 victory over Rainier Beach Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament before 1,200 boisterous fans at Christ the King High School’s Father John Savage Memorial Gymnasium.
It was a long trip for both schools situated a continent away. Findlay regularly makes the transcontinental journey in the regular season and Rainier Beach did the same in January when it traveled to the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
Rainier’s stay in the eight-team tournament was short but well deserved. The scored was tied three times and the lead changed eight times.
“I really enjoyed coaching this team; they had such great chemistry,” Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea, whose program annexed an eighth overall state crown in March.
Last month, the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association granted Rainier Beach, which finished 30-1, permission to play in the Dick’s National. The Vikings, who are ranked No. 3 by USA TODAY and a regular in the national polls, won the Les Schwab Invitational in December, but were held 37 points below their season average of 96 points per game.
Findlay (31-4) saw a double-digit lead drop to two, 48-46, a minute into the fourth quarter. Rainier’s Louisville-bound Shaqquan Aaron (12 points on 5 of 19 shooting) nailed a 3-pointer to make it 54-51, but the Pilots closed the final 4:11 on a 13-8 spurt.
Craig Victor II, an Arizona recruit, flipped in a game-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Kansas-bound Kelly Oubre had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Rashad Vaughan collected 14 points and handed out five assists for Findlay Prep, which is seeking its fourth tournament title. The Pilots won all three when the event was named the ESPN National High School Invitational.
Findlay’s length and offensive rebounding wore down the Vikings in the third quarter. Victor’s slam off a missed shot at 4:21 boosted Findlay’s lead to 10 points, 39-29, before Rainier Beach called a timeout.
However, the Vikings refused to fold.
The Seattle school pulled within eight points, 46-38, as senior forward Dujuan Piper converted off an offensive rebound with eight seconds left. Findlay’s largest lead reached 14 points (43-29) with 3:31 left on a Kelly Oubre dunk.
No. 3 Rainier Beach, the three-time Washington Class 3A champions, failed to get untracked in the first half, trailing 26-23 at halftime. Findlay featured balanced scoring in the first 16 minutes as Victor (nine points), Oubre (six) and Vaughan (five) combined to score 20 points. The Pilots might have stretched the lead but committed 10 turnovers and made only 1-of-7 three-pointers.
For the game, the Pilots made 24 of 52 shots (46.2 percent).
Rainier Beach cut the deficit to 22-20 when Tyrone Cook (six points) sliced to the rim. Aaron’s steal and emphatic dunk with two seconds left in the opening half trimmed the gap to three points or run. Aaron led all the Beach with seven points but converted 3-of-9 shots, while the team combined for a frigid 10 of 40 for 25 percent.
It was an unattractive game in the early going. There were only two points scored in the opening three minutes before the Pilots took a 10-7 lead.
Junior point guard De’Jounte Murray scored a team-high 19 points and cleared nine rebounds. Piper had five points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard David Crisp, who verballed to Washington but will likely wind up at a prep school, was limited two points, missing all five 3-point attempts.
The Pilots move into Friday’s semifinals against No. 7 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2. – Christopher Lawlor reporting.