They come from Las Vegas, a stack of blue-chip prospects who like the odds when they shoot. Whenever the three-time national high school boys basketball champions take the court in high-stakes games, the house wins. Findlay Prep's the name; crowd-pleasing dunks are the game.
"My goal in life is to rip off a rim and break a backboard," said 6-8 Arizona-bound forward Craig Victor, who had six of the Pilots' 12 dunks Thursday in a 67-59 victory over Rainier Beach of Washington in the third game of the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament played at Christ the King in Queens.
"We get mad if they don't dunk," said Findlay Prep coach Jerome Williams, the former Georgetown star.
There wasn't anything for Williams to get mad about Thursday. Victor scored 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and shot 10-for-17 from the field. Kelly Oubre, a 6-7 forward also headed to Arizona, had 17 points and 14 rebounds and UNLV-bound guard Rashad Vaughan had 14 points, five assists and six steals.
"That's what we do," Vaughan said when asked if these kinds of improvisational jam sessions are routine occurrences.
Findlay Prep of Henderson, Nev., the No. 2 seed in the event -- which previously was known as the National High School Invitational when it began in 2009 -- will face No. 6 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) in one of Friday's semifinals at Christ the King at 2:30 p.m. Oak Hill defeated Northside Christian Academy, 69-60. In Friday's 4:30 semifinal, No. 1 Montverde Prep (Fla.), which looked impressive in blasting Sagemont (Fla.), 81-63, Thursday night, plays No. 4 Huntington Prep (W.Va.), which edged La Lumiere (Ind.), 65-63.
Oubre and Vaughan have really been on the move. Both seniors played in the McDonald's All-American game in Chicago on Wednesday night, finishing at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time. They were up at 4 a.m. to catch a flight to New York Thursday morning. "I got one hour's sleep," Oubre said.
That's why Williams called Victor's number frequently in the first half. "We had one senior we could go to early until the other guys could get their legs in the second half," Williams said. "Craig showed up. He had a monster game."
Oubre and Vaughan showed up after the break, totaling 20 second-half points. The Pilots (31-4) built a 44-29 lead late in the third quarter, with Victor scoring three baskets during a dunk-fueled 8-0 burst.
To the Victor goes the slams.