With 13 state championships including five since 2000,
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
is used to dominating opponents from Nevada. But conquering nearby Findlay Prep (Henderson)
has been a struggle for the Gaels, who were 0-3 against the powerhouse independent school entering Saturday's showdown at Cox Arena in Las Vegas.
The misery continued for Bishop Gorman (13-4) as Findlay Prep (19-1) used a 20-5 run in the third quarter to breeze to a 73-61 win before 2,500 fans and a national television audience.
Destiny appeared to be on the side of Bishop Gorman heading into halftime when Oregon-bound forward Ben Carter
banked in a 70-footer to give the Gaels a 34-33 lead.
From that point forward, it was all Findlay Prep, which got 21 points from Dominic Artis
and 20 more from Nigel Williams-Goss
After the shot, Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck told his team at halftime: "What are you going to do to change it? I'm all in, but what are you going to do?"
The Pilots answered emphatically in the third quarter.
Though the guards did the scoring, the length of Findlay Prep bothered Bishop Gorman, which got 19 points and nine rebounds from the nation's No. 1 recruit, Shabazz Muhammad
The 6-foot-6 wing made just 8 of 22 shots and appeared bothered by the long reach of Findlay Prep, which played without five-star power forward Anthony Bennett
, out with a hamstring injury. On top of that, 6-8 senior Brandon Ashley played only 10 minutes due to foul trouble.
Still, Findlay had enough inside presence to drop Gorman, ranked No. 13 in the Xcellent 25 national rankings
Much of the defense was supplied by 6-7 junior Winston Shepard
, who helped hold Muhammad scoreless in the third quarter.
"He's got great size, strength and speed," Peck said of Shepard's defensive prowess. "He's a one-in-a-million for us. He will be sorely missed when he graduates."
Peck said great efforts were put in to contain Muhammad, who had 37 in a win over then No. 3 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., on Monday.
"At the end of the day, if he got 40 and we win, I'm fine with it," Peck said. "But if he gets 40, they're probably not on the short end."
Shepard said there was nothing he did special defensively, but play hard.
"I took it personal," Shepard said. "It was more of a pride thing than anything else. Our coach printed off some stuff and showed us what the mdeia was saying and how people were trying to say how he is unstoppable and this and that. I just wasn't buying into that.
"Everyone wondered how we were going to stop (Muhammad) and Gorman but the truth is they should have been wondering how Gorman was going to stop Findlay."
This was the fourth-straight win for Findlay Prep over Gorman, including last year's 89-86 double-overtime triumph. The game was decided on a buzzer-beater.
Most were anticipating a similar showdown this year, which made this ticket one of the hottest in town. The Las Vegas Sun
reported that tickets went for more than $200 on StubHub.com.
Las Vegas Sun reporter Ray Brewer contributed to this report.