Findlay Prep basketball coach Paul Washington ventured to Boise, Idaho, last weekend to watch his son P.J. play with Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
He’s back in Las Vegas now, trying to win a national title of his own.
With the Pilots.
In New York City.
Findlay Prep, the nation’s No. 3 team in USA Today’s rankings, was one of eight teams selected to play in the GEICO High School Basketball Nationals. The tournament runs from March 29 to 31 and will be televised on ESPNU and ESPN2.
The Pilots played a rigorous regular-season schedule and finished 30-4 behind Washington, who was placed on administrative leave during an internal investigation in early February before returning to the bench five days later.
The team hasn’t missed a beat, and senior guard Jack Schwietz indicated that Washington’s reinstatement was a rallying point for the Pilots.
“We jelled really well together this year as a team,” said Schwietz, who has signed to play at NCAA Tournament darling Maryland-Baltimore County. “We were able to rally around coach really well (when he came back). Everything worked out.”
Schwietz is one of four returning players for Findlay Prep, which reached the 2017 national tournament semifinals before losing to La Lumiere (Indiana), its first-round opponent this year.
The Pilots turned over six players from last year’s team, but retooled around consensus five-star center and Oregon commit Bol Bol, along with Arkansas bound forward Reggie Chaney and future Texas Tech wing Kyler Edwards.
“I still think we’re one of the deepest teams,” Washington said. “The strength of our game is obviously our size and our bigs, but we have some really good guards as well … It’s definitely a plus for us to have that balance.”
Washington also stressed the importance of the regular season in building continuity for the national tournament — the program’s focal point and the purpose of its existence.
Frankly, the coach expects the players to be ready for New York. And the players expect to be ready, too.
That’s why they come to Findlay Prep — to compete for national championships and play against the nation’s best teams.
“We play close games against good players (during the regular season), and then we go to nationals and it’s pretty much nothing,” Chaney said. “We’re used to it.”
Running back to play at Liberty
Desert Pines sophomore running back Jyden King will transfer to Liberty, he tweeted Monday night. King, listed at 6-feet and 205 pounds, ran for 677 yards and eight touchdowns last season for the Jaguars, who won their second straight Class 3A championship.
The Patriots lost to Bishop Gorman in the Class 4A state semifinals last season.
Gorman, Basic ranked nationally
Gorman’s baseball team is ranked No. 3 nationally, according to Perfect Game’s top 50 poll. Defending state champion Basic is ranked No. 35.