Of all the happenings that bring Las Vegas national attention, a high school basketball game would seem to be one of the unlikeliest. Yet since last season’s thriller, this year’s showdown between Findlay Prep and Bishop Gorman has been highly anticipated by prep sports pundits across the country.
Last January’s matchup between the teams produced the greatest high school basketball game in Nevada’s history, taking into account the big-time talent on the floor, the drama it produced and the standing-room-only crowd at Cox Pavilion. Findlay Prep won 89-86 on a last-second 3-pointer in double overtime to cap a performance that was as spellbinding as a Cirque show.
The 2 p.m. Jan. 21 rematch between Findlay Prep (18-1) and Bishop Gorman (13-3) at Cox Pavilion has been sold out for about two weeks and will be televised on ESPNU. Both teams are coming off impressive wins Jan. 16 in Springfield, Mass.—with Findlay, ranked No. 6 nationally by ESPN, routing top-ranked Simeon (Ill.) 75-50, and No. 24 Gorman beating No. 5 DeMatha (Md.), 73-65.
Both programs have five-star recruits being courted by UNLV, which hosts conference rival New Mexico at the adjacent Thomas & Mack Center at 7 p.m. to cap a daylong feast for basketball fans—with two other high school games preceding Findlay-Gorman, starting at 10 a.m.
Gorman senior guard Shabazz Muhammad, considered the best player in the country (see Basketball Town U.S.A.), is the marquee attraction, while Findlay has its own target of desire for Rebel fans in forward Anthony Bennett, ranked the nation’s seventh-best senior by Rivals.com. In addition, Gorman senior forward Demetris Morant and Findlay junior forward Christian Wood already have committed to the Rebels, while UNLV is also eyeing Findlay seniors Winston Shepard and Matt Willms.
“You never know if you’ll see it exactly like this again,” Findlay coach Michael Peck says. “Timing-wise, we’re at a pinnacle of both teams having talent at a very, very high level, and the teams’ success doing equally well. It’s possible, for sure, but this is probably a unique year in that regard.”