Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008 | 10:47 p.m.
After a sketchy start against a wall of tall foes, Findlay College Prep improved to 9-0 on Tuesday night with an 80-49 victory over Stoneridge Prep.
Uncommitted senior forward Victor Rudd led the Pilots with 22 points, Texas-bound guard Avery Bradley had 15 and Illinois signee D.J. Richardson went for 14.
“That’s something we haven’t faced,” said Findlay coach Mike Peck, “another team that’s very physical and huge. That was an adjustment for us. They don’t just cover ground vertically, but horizontally, with size.
“That threw our guys, altered some shots. Our guys are good enough to make their adjustments. It just took them some time.”
UNLV coach Lon Kruger attended the game and watched 6-foot-11 center Carlos Lopez, who will be a Rebel next fall, struggle with only six second-half points.
Godwin Okonji, the 6-9 junior forward from Nigeria who has told the Sun he would like to play at UNLV, converted a fastbreak jam with 23 seconds remaining for his only points in the game.
That meant all nine Pilots scored.
And Rudd became interested in UNLV when a scholarship opened up late last week with Beas Hamga’s departure.
Arizona, Marquette, Washington, DePaul, Gonzaga and the Rebels will figure in Rudd’s recruitment.
Findlay trailed, 5-2, about eight minutes into the first 20-minute half as four Wildcats who were 7-feet, or close to it, made their presence felt.
Then the Pilots went on a 16-5 run that Bradley ignited with a strong dunk off a close inbounds pass under his own basket.
Rudd had 10 points in that flurry.
Still, Stoneridge cut its deficit to 21-17 before Findlay ended the first half with eight consecutive points.
Willie Hankins sank a free throw, Bradley made a slick move for a layup on the right side, Rudd hit a free throw, Issiah Grayson hit a straight-on bank jumper and Richardson went coast-to-coast for a layin with 5 seconds left.
Stoneridge committed turnovers on its first four possessions of the second half, allowing Findlay to take a 35-17 lead.
The Pilots, who jumped to No. 2 in Tuesday’s USA Today Super 25 national high school basketball rankings, weren’t threatened the rest of the way.
They had been scheduled to play Rise Academy on Tuesday and Wednesday, but Rise couldn’t make the trip because of travel difficulties.
Fortunately, Stoneridge, from Tarzana, Calif., was in the area and Peck secured Tuesday’s game, which was played in the Henderson International School gym.
Peck couldn’t find a Wednesday foe, so his players will take some time off before hosting their own tournament in a week and a half.