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NHSI Final: Findlay Beats Oak Hill 74-66

The Game

With MoMo Jones off to a slow start from the field and Keith Gallon content to float about the perimeter, Findlay Prep was able to pull away in the third quarter behind strong play from Corey Joseph and DJ Richardson. Star Avery Bradley did not have the same dominating performance he did against Montrose Christian in the semifinals, but his 20-point, eight-rebound performance was enough to lead his team to victory, though he fouled out of the game with three minutes left in the fourth quarter after picking up several questionable offensive foul calls. Once again, 2010 Longhorn commit Tristan Thompson had a relatively quiet game until the crucial stages of the fourth quarter, as Oak HIll finally gathered the intensity level to make a run at winning the game. Knocking down three throws (a struggle earlier in the tournament), Thompson also added a thunderous dunk after breaking the Oak Hill press, showing off his impressive handles for a 6-9 forward.

The Players

  • Avery Bradley - Seeking to disrupt the offensive rhythm of Oak Hill, Findlay coach Mike Peck opted for a zone defense to disrupt Oak Hill's entry passing, leaving the job of stopping Oak Hill star MoMo Jones to the team. Though Bradley wasn't able to use his suffocating man-to-man defense in the game, it was clear that Oak Hill guards avoiding taking him off the dribble. Offensively, Bradley showed the same explosiveness in the open court, as well as the polished mid-range game that is unrivalled in high school basketball and a lost art in the game.
  • Cory Joseph - Countryman of Myck Kabongo and Tristan Thompson, the 6-3, 180-pound Canadian point guard impressed throughout the tournament with his length and ball-handling ability, as well as a consistent jump shot from long distance. Given that combination, it's a wonder that Joseph hasn't drawn more attention among the high-major power than simply Kansas and Memphis, though those two schools are nothing to scoff at in terms of offers. Joseph will be a star next year as DJ Richardson and Avery Bradley move on.
  • Keith Gallon - Predictably, Gallon gravitated towards the perimeter in an effort to show off his soft touch from NBA range, failing to establish a back-to-the-basket game, dissuaded by the Findlay zone. If teams can simply go to a zone defense to keep Gallon away from the basket, Gallon will alow teams to easily scheme him into ineffectiveness. On the positive side, he didn't give up the easy offensive baskets he did in the McDonald's All-American game, while also showing an impressive ability to make on-the-mark outlet passes -- Gallon has great vision down the court after rebounding the ball. Not quite as accurate as Kevin Love, Gallong nonetheles shows an ability to instantly be one of the best outlet passes in college basketball upon his arrival on campus.
  • MoMo Jones - Twice de-committed, MoMo Jones struggled from the field against the stingy Findlay defense, though many of his early shots unfortunately rimmed out for him. A stroke that often emphasizes popping the ball towards the basket instead of a fluid follow-through doesn't help Jones. His ability to get to the basket and finish in the mid range will make Jones a dynamic player on the college level, despite his relatively poor performance in the biggest game of his high school career.
  • DJ Richardson - Committed to Illinois, Richardson waited for his opportunity to shine during the tournament, as Avery Bradley took his turn on Saturday. Using his ability to knock down the long jumper or get to the basket, Richardson also added some impressive defensive plays, including a block of a lay-up attempt after scorig on the other end. Unable to properly showcase his skills in the first two games, Richardson did not waste the opportunity to shine in the finals.
  • Tristan Thompson - A generally disappointing performance with his new teammates may cause many observes to lower their opinion of Thompson, currently ranked as one of the top several players in the 2010 class. However, it's important to keep in mind that Thompson has now played only five games with his new team, a group that thrives on the perimeter and relies on dribble penetration instead of generating offense from the inside-out. As such, Thompson had few post-up opportunities within the flow of the offense, almost never receiving entry passes, or even looks to make entry passes. Instead, Thompson was expected to run the floor and crash the offensive glass, where he turned several missed baskets into follow dunks. Of equal importance was his clutch late-game shooting, as he made four free throws in the last several minutes and added a thunderous dunk taking an inbounds the length of the court to stem a serious comeback bid by Oak Hill. He is far from a finished product, but Thompson wil improve tremendously with an off season in the Findlay program.