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August 22, 2014

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Findlay guard Joseph scores 33, talks about UNLV

The 3-0 Pilots are beating opponents by an average score of 127-88

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Rob Miech

Findlay College Prep senior guard Cory Joseph after scoring 33 points Friday night to lead the Pilots to a 122-90 victory over Princeton Country Day of New Jersey. Joseph will take his fifth and final official recruiting visit to UNLV next month.

Anyone who arrived late to Findlay College Prep’s basketball game Friday night against Princeton Country Day of New Jersey likely did a double take.

The scoreboard read: Guest 84, Home 17.

It was a mere malfunction, though, as the contraption couldn’t register triple digits. The Pilots actually led, 117-84, and cruised to a 3-0 record with a 122-90 thumping of the Storm.

Findlay, the defending ESPN high school national champion and the country’s consensus No. 1 team, probably just burned out a few bulbs in the Henderson International School gym scoreboard.

The Pilots scored 137 points in their first game and followed that with 121. They are averaging 127 points, and super point guard Cory Joseph led the way Friday night by scoring 33 points.

“They came out with some energy,” Joseph said of the Storm. “They caught us on our heels sometimes, and we caught them on their heels sometimes. It was a good, fast-paced game.”

Joseph seemed a bit relieved to have decided, three days earlier, to take his fifth and final collegiate recruiting visit to UNLV.

He has taken official visits to Texas, Connecticut, Villanova and Minnesota. He chose UNLV, where former teammate Carlos Lopez plays, over Florida and Mississippi State for his last official visit.

He’ll take that formal trip to the UNLV campus the second weekend of December.

“It should be good, real fun,” said Joseph, a 6-foot-3 guard who led Findlay to a 33-0 record last season. “The coaches there are great people.”

Rebels assistant coach Lew Hill watched the Findlay game Friday night from the corner of the gym, and UNLV coach Lon Kruger has attended many Pilots game in recent seasons.

“They’re so close,” Joseph said of the proximity of UNLV to Findlay in the Henderson foothills. “I talk to them all the time. I’m close to the coaches. They have great people there.

“Plus, their system is a lot like Findlay’s. They’re fast-paced and involve ball screens, and their defense is similar.”

The Pilots’ defense, however, had third-year coach Mike Peck rolling his eyes when he walked out of his team’s locker room after the game.

It was the second time Peck, who is 68-1 guiding the Pilots, watched Findlay yield at least 90 points this season.

Is that going to cut it, Peck said, when Findlay travels to those games in Peoria, Ill., Boston and Fort Myers, Fla., in coming weeks?

“Stinginess and stubbornness,” said Peck of what he needs his players to understand about defense.

The game also featured the debut of Henry Uwadiae, a 6-10, 200-pound sophomore center from Benin City, Nigeria, who arrived in Las Vegas seven days earlier.

Peck put him in with 1:20 left, and the lefty scored on the left side, on a nifty feed from junior guard Nick Johnson, with 34 seconds remaining. Uwadiae got fouled but he missed the free throw.

Senior power forward Godwin Okonji, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, who entered the game averaging 18 points and 13.5 rebounds, tallied only three points. He is playing a key role in Uwadiae’s transition.

Peck has started with the basics, and he wants Uwadiae to learn how to be quick, to do everything fast.

“If that means getting from here, in the gym, to lunch … then do it fast,” Peck said. Okonji ensures that that message gets across.

Peck’s offense is in high gear, though, and senior power forward Tristan Thompson (28 points) and junior guard Jabari Brown (23) provided additional punch next to Joseph.

Brown fell a point shy of his team-leading scoring average, and Thompson entered the game averaging 20.5 points on 75 percent shooting.

Joseph saw his average drop to 17 after tallying only six points, because of foul trouble, in his last game.

That didn’t bother him, though.

“I mean, I’m a team player,” Joseph said. “I try to get my teammates into it. If I score six I don’t care, as long as we win. If I score 20 or 30 … whatever it takes to win.”

Follow Rob Miech on Twitter at twitter.com/RobMiech.

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