HPrep falls in semis
QUEENS, N.Y. -- One day after a buzzer-beater sent Huntington Prep to victory, the late-game magic went in the other direction for the Irish.
Huntington Prep's season came to an end one game short of its goal as Montverde Academy (Fla.) used a 12-4 run over the final three minutes to defeat the Irish 56-51 in the semifinals of the Dick's Sporting Goods National High School Tournament at Christ The King H.S. in Queens, N.Y.
"Our guys hung tough and we made plays when we needed to make plays," Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford said. "We just didn't make enough."
Huntington Prep had a chance to tie in the game's final seconds, but JaQuan Lyle was stripped from behind and Montverde's D'Angelo Russell hit two free throws to seal the win.
The loss ended Huntington Prep's 15-game winning streak and the Irish' season at 28-5.
Montverde (27-0) moves on to Saturday championship game at noon Saturday Madison Square Garden where the Eagles will take on Oak Hill Academy (Va.), which defeated Findlay Prep (Nev.) earlier in the day.
The Eagles came into the contest ranked No. 1 in the nation and seeded No. 1 in the tournament, but Montverde needed a late run to get past Huntington Prep.
Thomas Bryant's lay-in with 3:10 left capped a 9-2 run for Huntington Prep and gave the Irish a 47-44 lead.
During the run, Jalen Lindsey's 3-pointer with 4:20 left gave the Irish the lead while Montaque Gill-Caesar also netted his first four points of the game.
As had been the case throughout the contest, however, foul trouble slowed Huntington Prep's aggressiveness on the defensive end and Montverde took full advantage.
Montverde's game-ending run started with Makinde London's driving layup, which came as Bryant had to steer clear after picking up his fourth foul just seconds before.
Ben Simmons then got a pair of buckets down low -- the biggest being a dunk off an offensive rebound that gave Montverde the lead for good with 1:56 left.
The Irish cut the deficit to one on a pair of occasions, but Russell, an Ohio State commit, hit all six of his free throws in the game's late stages to ice the win.
In addition to Bryant's absence, Lyle missed portions of the fourth quarter after getting his fourth foul on the first defensive possession of the quarter and Gill-Caesar didn't score until there was 4:55 remaining in the game because he joined Bryant in foul trouble, picking up his third early in the third quarter.
With those starters in foul trouble, Huntington Prep was limited on what the team could do on each end.
"With Teki (Gill-Caesar) on the bench for the majority of the game and Thomas in foul trouble, we were searching offensively," Fulford said. "It's not a lineup that we typically play with."
Lindsey picked up the slack offensively, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to give Huntington Prep a 31-26 lead with 5:50 left in the third. However, that would be the last basket of the quarter for the Irish.
Russell connected on a free throw with three seconds left in the frame to give Montverde a one-point edge heading to the final period.
The strong third quarter for Montverde came after Huntington Prep had taken momentum and a 21-18 lead into the halftime break after a dominant defensive performance in the second quarter.
One night after Montverde scored 30 points in the second quarter of a win over Sagemont (Fla.), the Huntington Prep's defense kept the Eagles to just two points in the second quarter.
The biggest factor in Huntington Prep's defensive success came from reserve Levi Cook, who came in for Bryant and played brilliantly in the post.
Going against Simmons, a top-10 recruit for the Class of 2015, Cook used his 6-10, 290-pound frame to gain position and dominate the inside against Montverde.
Cook finished with five points and a game-high nine rebounds, including five on the offensive end.
Cook's presence down low and the slowed, half-court nature of the Huntington Prep offense during the second quarter kept Montverde from getting into its dangerous transition game. The end result was a quarter in which the Eagles hit one field goal -- a Simmons' putback with 4:20 left in the first half.
"I thought we did a good job of making it a half-court game," Fulford said. "They didn't get many run-outs and transition points."
Huntington Prep scored the final seven points of the quarter and took the lead and momentum to the locker room after Lindsey connected on his first 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer.
"It was good going in with the lead," Lindsey said. "We needed that. I think it was a momentum-changer."
Lindsey scored 14 points to lead Huntington Prep while Lyle and Josh Perkins each had eight. Bryant finished with seven points and six rebounds in limited action.
Russell led Montverde with 17 points while Justin Bibbs added 13 points. Simmons finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in the win.
HUNTINGTON PREP 10 11 13 17 -- 51: Gill-Caesar 6, Perkins 8, Lyle 8, Lindsey 14, Bryant 7, Bridges 3, Cook 5.
MONTVERDE 16 2 17 21 -- 56: Russell 17, Caroline 6, Bibbs 13, Simmons 12, Cham 2, Egi 6.