Findlay Prep coach Paul Washington was prepared for R.J. Barrett to do some scoring for Montverde Academy (Florida) on Friday.
He wasn’t ready for Filip Petrusev.
Petrusev had 21 points and seven rebounds and was 5-for-6 on 3-pointers to lead the Eagles to a 71-53 win over the Pilots in in the semifinals of the GEICO High School Nationals in New York.
Barrett is widely considered the top player in the senior class, and he had 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals. But Washington said Petrusev made the difference.
“R.J. shot the ball 23 times to get 22 points,” Washington said. “I’ll take that all day long. He’s not the one that killed us. (Petrusev), that was the one that was really the dagger for us. We didn’t really game plan to give up 21 points to their center position.”
Montverde (34-0) will take on University School (Florida) in the final at 9 a.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
The 6-foot-10-inch Petrusev, who has signed with Gonzaga, got the Eagles going early by making four first-quarter 3-pointers.
Petrusev consistently found soft spots in the Pilots’ zone defense, and his 3-pointer from the right wing made the score 19-2 with 2:26 left in the first quarter. Findlay Prep (32-5) never recovered.
“They did a good job of getting into their sets and shooting 3s,” Washington said. “They had a kid that hit 4-for-4 at halftime. When you have that, it’s hard to come back.”
Barrett, a 6-7 forward who has signed with Duke, showed his considerable skills throughout the game, attacking the basket and knocking down two 3-pointers.
His all-around game was on display during one particular sequence when he blocked the shot of Findlay Prep 7-2 center Bol Bol on the left block and controlled the rebound. Barrett then hit a 3-pointer from the right corner during the ensuing possession to push the lead to 61-45 with 5:20 left.
Reggie Chaney, who has signed with Arkansas, led the Pilots with 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Bol, who has signed with Oregon, had 12 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots but was 2-for-9 from the field. In two games in the tournament, the Pilots’ star was 4-for-19.
“We made it a game,” said Washington, who noted that 18 turnovers helped derail the comeback. “They were trying to come back so hard, and everybody was trying to do it themselves. They’ve got passion, and they’ve got heart. I feel like we left everything on the floor.”
Michael Devoe, who has signed with Georgia Tech, scored 11 for Montverde, and teammate Andrew Nembhard, a Florida signee, had eight points and eight assists.