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National High School Invitational: Prime Prep is on a mission

Prime Prep, Findlay Prep, Montverde Academy and St. Benedict's Prep advance to semifinals

Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) senior Nigel Williams-Goss scored 26 points to help lead the No. 1 Pilots past Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) in the quarterfinals of the NHSI. / Randy Sager Photography Inc.

News, notes and results from the first day of the National High School Invitational.

NORTH BETHESDA, Md. – Last weekend when Prime Prep (Dallas) suffered its first loss of the season to Sunrise Christian (Wichita, Kan.), a team they’d rolled by 28 points earlier in the season, the Winning, who are ranked No. 5 in the USA Today HSS Super 25, said it was a “major wake-up call.”

“We weren’t gonna have that feeling anymore,” forward Jordan Mickey said. “We weren’t losing anymore.”

So headed into overtime against No. 12 Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.) in the quarterfinals of the ESPN National High School Invitational, Prime Prep coach Ray Forsett had no worries.

MORE: 'Winning' mascot suits Prime Prep

“We’re on a mission,” Forsett said. “We had to strap our boots on, but no matter what we were gonna win.”

Even if it took an ill-advised timeout from the Blanche Ely bench with the score tied at 64 and just 12.3 seconds left in the game. The Tigers were out of timeouts and were charged with a technical foul.

Mickey knocked down both free throws to seal the win, 66-65, Thursday at Georgetown Prep.

“I asked to shoot the free throws on the tech,” said Mickey, who finished with 28 points, eight blocks and eight rebounds in the win. “I knew I wouldn’t miss. We weren’t gonna lose this one. I didn’t want to go out like that. We’re just on a mission. We’re not done either.”

Prime Prep will face the winner of No. 2 Montverde (Montverde, Fla.) and Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) on Friday.

Challenge to Mudiay

Forsett is as outspoken a coach as they come and was quick to share why the Winning “didn’t play well.”

“Emman,” Forsett said. “He knows I tell him as the top point guard in the country, it’s his fault when we don’t look good and he gets the praise when we do. So he’s gonna have to play better.”

Emmanuel Mudiay, who is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN 60, shot just 4 of 13 and finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five turnovers in the win.

“I’m not mad because we got the win,” said Mudiay, a junior. “I know I’ve gotta play better so that’s what I’ll do. I’m not worried. I’ll bounce back quick.”

To make sure of that, Forsett said he’ll be giving Mudiay constant reminders that he needs to step up.

“I’ll be riding him about it,” Forsett said. “He knows how I get down. But I know he’ll respond.”

Gray Bees OK with underdog role

With all of the focus and media attention on No. 1 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), No. 2 Montverde and, to some degree, No. 5 Prime Prep, St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.), which is ranked No. 4, quietly routed No. 20 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), 73-60, in the quarterfinals of the NHSI.

“The whole year we’ve been playing to prove people wrong,” said Gray Bees point guard Tyler Ennis, who scored 22 points in the win. “Coming into the season we felt like we should’ve been ranked higher and we’ve approached each game with a chip on our shoulder. We’re fine with the underdog role.”

MORE: Don't confuse Ennis with the hockey player

St. Benedict’s Prep coach Mark Taylor said he’s not only fine with the lack of attention the Gray Bees have gotten, he hopes it continues.

“Hopefully the attention will stay on them and we can use that to focus and continue to do well,” Taylor said. “All I can tell you is that we packed for three nights not one or two.”

The Gray Bees will play the Findlay Prep-Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) winner Friday.

Ennis still playing with a chip

Tyler Ennis still feels “some kinda way” about not being selected for the McDonald’s All American game. After he learned he didn’t make the cut back in February, he responded with a 52-point outing in a win over Eastern (Voorhees, N.J.).

Thursday, Ennis led the Gray Bees with 22 points in their quarterfinal win over La Lumiere.

“I watched the McDonald’s game last night,” said Ennis, who is signed to Syracuse. “I put it in the back of my head that I didn’t get picked. I approach it like I don’t want them to ever have the opportunity to not pick me for something like that again. I think in some ways it’ll help me.”

Oak Hill is always dangerous

No. 2-ranked Montverde (Fla.) Academy needed a big game from a new player and strong efforts from two exhaustsed players to top unranked Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 77-70 in overtime in a quarterfinal.

"You have to give Steve Smith and Oak Hill their respect," said Montverde coach Kevin Boyle. "Over the past 25 years, they're the measuring stick of high school basketball. Oak Hill was the school over a five, 10, 15-year period. We hopefully could be that school in maybe five to 10 years. This (Oak Hill) team is not vintage Oak Hill talent but still a very good team."

Oak Hill's Warriors went 33-5 but didn't beat a team that is currently in the Super 25. Still, the Warriors are accustomed to playing on the road and taking everybody's best efforts and they led the 22-2 Eagles by two points with a little over a minute in regulation.

"We just said (going in), this is a second season," Smith said. "The games we lost this year were very close games. We felt like we could play with anybody in the tournament."
Say hello to Ben Simmons

Next year was supposed to be Ben Simmons' breakout year, but he gave a little advance notice in Montverde's quarterfinal defeat of Oak Hill. The 6-9 sophomore forward from Australia recently became eligible to play and in his first game for Montverde, hit six of seven shots from the floor, pulled down six rebounds, had four steals and 16 points.

"We didn't expect him to do what he did," said Oak Hill coach Steve Smith. "He came in with a lot of energy."

Simmons' play reminded Montverde coach Kevin Boyle of a player he coached at St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.).

"The  numbers were solid," Boyle said. "Ben is a versatile guy. He can score in a lot of ways. He reminds me of Michael Gilcrhist. Michael filled up the stat sheet and he's that type of guy too. He had a lot of versatility in the game."

Nigel Williams-Goss doesn't tire easily

The Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) guard, who will play at Washington next year, scored 26 points to lead the No. 1 Pilots to a 57-53 defeat of Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) in a quarterfinal at the National High School Invitational

Williams-Goss had played in the McDonald's All American Game in Chicago on Wednesday, then took an early morning flight Thursday to join the rest of his team.

MORE: McDonald's All Americans focused on NHSI

"I had a little bit of food poisoning and I was up and I saw he was up texting early in the morning and I got a little worried," said Findlay Prep coach Todd Simon. "But I had zero doubt. There's not a better-conditioned athlete. He's a guy who will run a mile after practice. He told me he would be ready to go and  I said, if we get three games, you're playing 96 minutes."

Montrose coach Stu Vetter said he wondered how ready Williams-Goss would be but his question was answered, particularly in a stretch in the fourth quarter where Williams-Goss scored seven consecutive points for the Pilots.

"Williams-Goss is a very good player," Vetter said. "You don't see many players as smart as he is who can take over the game. He was tremendous, considering he was coming back from the McDonald's game."

Ishmael Wainwright answers the call

Montrose Christian forward Ishmail Wainwright led the Mustangs with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists in his final high school game.

The solidly built Baylor signee showed he's ready for the college game, showing an excellent mid-range jumper to go with physical defense.

"He's so strong," Simon said. "We tried to take him away from the basket as much as he could. We said, if he's going to get shots, they're going to be outside and to his credit, he made them. He's a heck of a player and was definitely a key focus of ours and was still able to perform."



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