Nigel Williams-Goss should just be known as the Eagle killer.
Williams-Goss nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with two seconds to play, giving Findlay Prep’s boys basketball team a 62-59 win over Montverde Academy (Fla.) in the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., on Monday.
“Nigel’s a rock,” Findlay coach Todd Simon said of the 6-foot-4-inch senior guard. “He thrives on the big game. We had all the confidence in the world with the ball in his hands that something good was going to happen sooner or later.
“He’s just a winner in every sense of the word.”
The Pilots (23-0) came in ranked No. 1 by USA Today and No. 2 by ESPN.com. Montverde (19-2) was ranked No. 2 by USA Today and No. 1 by ESPN.com.
The shot by Williams-Goss capped a rally from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter for Findlay’s 42nd consecutive victory. It was the second year in a row he completed an unlikely comeback against the Eagles. He made the winning shot in an 86-83 overtime victory last March after the Pilots trailed Montverde by 18 with 5:08 to go in regulation.
Williams-Goss scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, and he took over after Montverde point guard Kasey Hill, a Florida signee considered one of the top 10 seniors in the nation, fouled out with 3:57 remaining.
Williams-Goss shot 8-for-11 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. His winning basket was his only 3-point attempt.
“On the biggest stage, he stepped up and had as good a quarter as you’ll ever see from a Findlay player,” Simon said.
In the absence of Hill, Williams-Goss was able to focus on offense and drive the lane relentlessly. His free throw after Hill’s fifth foul started an 8-0 run that got the Pilots within 56-53.
Williams-Goss, who has signed with Washington, made two free throws with 1:27 remaining to put Findlay ahead 59-58, the Pilots’ first lead since 14-13.
A free throw by Montverde’s Devin Williams tied it with 1:17 to play. Findlay’s Allerik Freeman then missed a quick 3-pointer, but the Eagles turned the ball over with 32.1 seconds left to give the ball back to the Pilots.
After a timeout, Findlay held the ball against Montverde’s zone, with Williams-Goss making his move with six seconds to go, and pulling up for his winning 3.
“To his credit, he felt that was the best shot at that time, and he was able to knock it down like we’ve seen him do a million times before,” Simon said.
The Pilots dug an early hole as Montverde was dominant inside. Dakari Johnson, a 6-10 center headed to Kentucky, and Williams, a 6-8 forward bound for West Virginia, were nearly unstoppable inside. They combined for 22 points and 13 rebounds in the first half.
Williams finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Johnson had 17 points and eight boards.
Findlay’s Christian Wood, a UNLV signee, had 14 points and six rebounds. He had eight points and three rebounds in the third quarter to help keep the Pilots in the game. Freeman, who is headed to UCLA, had 11 points and four rebounds, and Williams-Goss had five rebounds and four assists for Findlay.
“Any time you can beat what a lot of people say is the No. 1 team talent-wise on paper, there’s a lot of joy in that,” Simon said. “Now 23 games into the year, I think it’s kind of clear that I think we’re the best team in the country and we’re playing like it.”