Findlay Prep’s boys basketball team boasts two McDonald’s All-Americans. But it was another senior standout who guided the Pilots to a victory on Thursday.
Craig Victor had 23 points and 11 rebounds to power Findlay Prep to a 67-59 win over Rainier Beach (Wash.) in the High School National Tournament quarterfinals in New York City.
“He really was a monster underneath there,” Findlay Prep coach Jerome Williams said of the 6-foot-8-inch Victor. “He made a statement of not making the McDonald’s All-American (game). He pushed his team to a chance at a national title.”
Findlay Prep plays Oak Hill (Va.) in the semifinals at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The game will be televised on ESPN2 (31).
The Pilots led 26-23 at halftime, but Victor scored eight points in the third quarter, including six during an 8-0 run that pushed the lead to 43-29 with 3:31 left in the third. Findlay Prep scored 10 second-chance points in the third.
The Vikings (29-1) were just 1-for-18 on 3-pointers through three quarters, but finally made some shots from long range to make things interesting in the fourth quarter.
Rainier Beach, ranked No. 3 in the nation by USA Today, started the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run capped by back-to-back 3-pointers, the second by De’Juonte Murray that made the score 48-46 with 6:43 left.
No. 8 Findlay Prep (31-4) answered by getting the ball to Victor in the lane for a bucket to push the lead to four.
“Guys really stuck to the game plan of taking it to the hoop and being aggressive offensively and taking it to the rim,” Williams said.
The Vikings had a chance to cut the lead to two again, but Dujuan Piper missed a dunk in transition with 4:36 left.
Shaqquan Aaron, who has signed with Louisville, hit a 3-pointer from the right corner with 4:11 left to cut the lead to 54-51, but UNLV-bound guard Rashad Vaughn hit two free throws to push the lead to five, and a dunk by Victor gave the Pilots some cushion.
Vaughn, a McDonald’s All-American, had 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots for the Pilots. The team’s other All-American, Kansas signee Kelly Oubre, had 17 points and 14 rebounds. Vaughn played 15 minutes and Oubre 18 in the McDonald’s game on Wednesday night.
“All the seniors really carried this team, and two of them had just played 12 hours before,” Williams said.
Murray scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half for Rainier Beach.
The Pilots dressed only seven players, and just six played. Three players are out for the season with injuries.
“We don’t make any excuses,” Williams said. “Obviously there’s going to be fatigue. We’re just going to keep fighting. No guts, no glory.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at email@example.com or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.