April 2, 2010

Findlay Prep, Montverde reach NHSI final

MORE: Complete list of 2009-10 State High School Hoops Champions | McDonald's game recap

No one is quite sure what the future is for the Findlay Prep boys basketball team. The school the team is associated with, Henderson International, is planning to eliminate its high school classes next school year.

But if this the end for the four-year program - seemingly created to dominate the high school scene - it only makes sense it would want to go out with a victory.

Findlay Prep, No. 8 in the latest RivalsHigh Top 100 rankings, will get that chance. Friday afternoon, it advanced to the title game of the National High School Invitational basketball tournament with a 68-53 victory over Beckley (W. Va.) Mountain State Academy.

It will meet No. 6 Montverde (Fla.) High - a 62-56 overtime winner over No. 18 Winter Park (Fla.) High - in the final Saturday.

All games are being played at Coppin State in Baltimore.

Findlay Prep was led by star guard Cory Joseph, who finished with 32 points - including eight in a row in the third quarter that put the game out of reach.

The Pilots won the inaugural tournament a year ago on the way to the national title. And while that crown isn't available this season (it already has been clinched by Yates of Houston), there is still plenty of intrigue.

First, there's Joseph, the No. 3 point guard and No. 7 overall player in the Rivals Class of 2010 rankings. He's believed to be down to five schools including nearby UNLV, Texas (where teammate Tristan Thompson is headed) as well as Villanova, UConn and Minnesota.

Then there's the school itself, which is located in Henderson, Nev., on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

Saturday's final will be the final boys basketball game of the season, but it could also be the final game for Findlay Prep - the brainchild of former UNLV player Cliff Findlay, who has provided the financial banking for the team.

In February, when the school announced it was eliminating the high school grades, Findlay Prep head coach Mike Peck said he believed the team will continue.

"I'm very confident with the strong interest that key people have in keeping it going," he told RivalsHigh. "I'm very confident that it will continue."

It will for at least another day. And it will get a chance to avenge one of its two defeats this season - and one of just a handful of loses in its history.

Findlay Prep fell to Montverde, 54-51, in January.

Montverde, meanwhile, was able to avenge one of its losses this season with its 62-56 overtime victory over its Orlando-area rival.

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