NHSI Championship Press Conference Quotes

Here’s the complete transcript of the ESPN RISE NHSI Championship post-game press conference. Montverde head coach Kevin Boyle, Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck and Findlay Prep players Brandon Ashley, Anthony Bennett, Winston Shepard and Nigel Williams-Goss spoke.

Montverde head coach Kevin Boyle

On playing D’Angelo Russell at the very end of the game and turnovers: “Well, it was a combination of offense and ball-handling and our four biggest guys fouled out. There was really no choice because D’Angelo is a good player and he’s a good ball-handler so he tried to help out [since] we had a ton of turnovers in the fourth quarter. We weren’t able to catch the ball higher and they did a good job of denying us. We were forced to catch the ball in the corners instead of the foul line extended and they’d trap quick and we obviously didn’t handle it well. We had a couple travels and a couple tips from behind. Obviously it’s frustrating and disappointing for us that we didn’t do a better job handling the pressure but what are you going to do?”

On Patricio Garino and Kasey Hill: “I think Kasey solidified himself in this tournament [as] roughly one of the ten best kids in his class nationally. Obviously, I don’t know if he won MVP of the tournament [since] we lost, but he was the best player in the tournament. We just couldn’t get the ball to him enough and they were face-guarding him and we were trying to flash a guy up the side and take off but those guys weren’t getting open. They have good athletes over there and I think we got a little bit cautious — they were playing not to make a mistake instead of playing with confidence — and we weren’t hitting some guys when they were open, we would throw the ball away which forced us to catch it so low and get trapped between a 6’6 [guy] and 6’10 [guy]. I thought for the most part the refs were good but sometimes in a scenario when it was late in the game and Findlay was down 12, every time they drive, it’s a foul. I thought they got a lot of whistles in the fourth quarter when it was a 10 [point deficit], 8 [point deficit], 12 [point deficit] that we weren’t getting throughout the game. They were at the line getting points as opposed to using some time.”

On Brandon Ashley dominating the fourth quarter: “Well, that’s the hard part. He was posting — it was a tough call on one side he’s leaning in and spinning back and Joel [Embid] only played about three games this year. He’s getting faked in the middle and getting hooked — it was a good move — and scoring and coming back to the same move like three times. On the one side you’re saying double [team] him hard but on the other side you’re saying you still think they don’t have enough possessions where if they double him and he kicks it out and they hit a three, maybe you give up a two or stop as opposed to giving a three. We double him and they hit a couple of threes, it could change things.”

On whether this was the toughest loss in his career: “Without question. One, the magnitude of the game — we’re playing Findlay. [Two], it’s obviously a bitter defeat, we’re up 15 with five minutes left, it’s the game if we can shoot foul shots and handle the ball and we have three guards on the court — actually four at the end. Like I said, we played a little cautious, we got a tip from behind in the corner over half court, we had a travel over half court, Kasey made one of the two [free throws at the end of the game], he almost had a hook pass for a lay-up but he gets fouled first, that would have helped us if he didn’t get fouled. Obviously, it’s extremely frustrating of a loss.”

On Miguel Cartegena: “Miguel is confident, he shoots it well. He’s got to go to the next level — he shot the ball really well and showed himself in game one and game three [of the NHSI] — the next thing for him is to develop more ball-handling skills and that’s where we need him for next year so in a scenario like this, he could help Kasey [Hill] a little more. But he did an excellent job making shots.”

On out-rebounding Findlay Prep [34-28]: “It’s a frustrating loss because we completely outplayed them for three and a half quarters. You try not to be too cautious, you don’t want to shoot too quick because you’re up 15, 16 points but you don’t want to play that aggressively. We had several turnovers, we played a little tight and guys wait and the trap is two feet away. It’s frustrating.”

Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck

On whether Findlay saved their best defense for the end on purpose: “Oh, that’s exactly [what happened]. It was all coaching, that’s exactly how I drew it up. I designed that, if you want the book on that I’ll have it printed. No, I can’t, they did it, these guys right here [pointing to the players on stage] and there teammates. I can’t sit here and say, ‘yeah, that’s how we drew it up.’ They went out there, turned up the gear, turned up their energy and effort level and played with a sense of urgency like we needed to and they got results. They got them to turn it over, they got them to tighten up and we converted. We got the result we wanted so it’s not anything X’s and O’s.”

On if he thought of Findlay Prep’s only loss of the year to La Lumiere during the game because of the similarities: “At halftime, that’s the first thing I said, ‘here we go again, December 29, La Lumiere guys. Here it comes, here we are again. Did you like that feeling? Is that where you want to go back to?’ We kind of had that, the one thing I will say is I pulled out everything motivationally. I blasted them, I used words that I’m not going to say here or in front of my wife. I tried to reason and logic and be calm with them and I don’t know when it clicked, what I was saying, what tone it was in, at some point there switches went on and they turned it on and got it done.”

On remaining calm on the sideline despite the huge deficit: “It’s like a quarterback, Peyton Manning is not going to show distress [and] your point guard can’t on the floor. If I’m showing it as the leader, what do I expect the five on the floor to do? Inside, it’s a different story. If you take a picture on the inside, you’d see a guy going nuts but on the outside, they’ve got to see a calmness because if I’m up in arms going nuts, then what do I expect them to do? We need poise and we need to focus because there’s still an objective and there’s a way we have to go about the process in order to get back to where we want to get to. That’s just a little bit of my personality too, I’m not a hoot-and-holler, rant-and-rave type of guy personality wise.”

On Brandon Ashley and if it was a total team effort: “Absolutely, and the one question I got for Brandon is what the hell were you waiting for? I’m getting old and I don’t want to get old in a 32-minute game. He put the cape on, Brandon Ashley was the Brandon Ashley he’s supposed to be, to be honest with you. He’s capable of that. The other guys went along and did their part and in the segments they needed to, they put their cape on. I couldn’t be more proud of a group than I am of this group today in the second half and their effort. We’ve had some pretty good groups and some pretty special kids — this one takes the cake.”

On Nigel Williams-Goss‘ great defense against Kasey Hill on the last possession in regulation: “That’s what we counted on him to do all year and Winston [Shepard] and our emphasis is defense. These guys will tell you they’ve been doing more shell defensive work since September than, at least as much as any team in the country, that goes on any level probably. They’re probably sick to death with it but bottom line is that’s our emphasis. He had to do it on Kendrick Nunn, he had to help on Shabazz [Muhammad], Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, Phil Forte, Kasey is another one. Kasey is just a terrific, tremendous player and he’s probably the more difficult ones [to guard] of all those I listed because of his speed with the ball and his ball skills. And his mindset as a true point, he sees things that are two to three steps ahead, he’s got an unbelievable feel and motor. That’s what he’s done for us all year, he picked the right time to turn it up a notch.”

On not being able to play Oak Hill: “That’s something we can’t control. [Oak Hill head coach] Steve [Smith] has his reasons, he’s in charge of that program, he’s got to make decisions based on what he feels is best for that program. That’s what he did so that’s out of our control. All we can control is what we’ve got ahead of us but the one thing I will say is if anybody wants to know my feeling on it, the best way I could describe it is if Alabama wouldn’t have had another shot at LSU [in the 2012 college football national championship game]. How [Alabama head coach] Nick Saban would have felt, that’s probably how I feel right now.”

On figuring out the right combination of guys to put on the court and having very talented guys on the bench: “Today, I was searching for a good combination for the better part of 32 minutes and finally it kind of just clicked for whatever reason, I don’t know the answer. That is something you do worry about with our program because we have two McDonald’s All-Americans, obviously guys that are top-25 players easily, so getting guys to play with other great players is hard, that’s more of the battle then, ‘hey, here’s the set or play we’re gonna run and here’s the defense,’ jeez, that’s the easy part of it a little bit. Getting them to buy in and say, ‘hey, I’m okay with eight points and four shots.’ We’ve got guys like Brandon [Ashley] and Anthony [Bennett], we talked to them about it before. We said, ‘hey, look, Brandon was out with his shoulder injury there for a stretch since February and B (Anthony Bennett) just kind of get back into the fold here in the first part of March, the group we’ve been going with has had a good rhythm to finish out our regular season, instead of disrupting it, here’s what I’m thinking. It’s not set in stone, let me put this out there to you guys. Here’s what I want to do, from a mental intimidation standpoint, at about the 5:30 or 6:00 minute mark I want both of you to go to the scorer’s table and hopefully at that point we have a six points lead and the other team is like, ‘now they’re bring those guys in?’ Then you can crack them a little bit so it gives you a mental edge’ so it’s a little bit of a mind game but [I] wanted them to know what I was doing and say, ‘hey, look guys buy into this, it’s not like you’re not going to play, look who finished the game, the guys on the floor who finished the game, that’s the important thing.”

On whether he thinks Findlay will win more NHSI titles: “Well I hope there’s more to come. The previous teams and now you can add this year’s team to that, they set the bench mark high, there’s a precedent. In the five years that I’ve been the head coach, four of those five years we’ve played in a national title game. That first year we were on the Prep side with the Brewsters and the New Hamptons and now in the last four years on the high school side, last year was the first year we weren’t competing in the national final game. Now we’re back on track, this is what the program is accustomed to and this is what we set the mark at every year, this is the expectation for us. This is what each group needs to strive for and you can put their name next to the previous groups [because] they set the bar high.”

On the last time Findlay was down that much: “We weren’t, I don’t think we’ve been down that much. If we were, I would say at the most we were down two possessions. We played Northland Columbus, down 14 at the half, lost by three there, a one possession game. Last year we were down to Dwyer and kind of made a comeback a little bit. We were down to Norcross last year as well and came back, [that] was a one possession game with a chance to win it, but [we] came up short on the ones that I just mentioned. This [comeback] might be a first for us.”

Findlay Prep power forward Brandon Ashley

On the week in general after winning the NHSI and participating in the McDonald’s All-American game: “It’s been an amazing week. Going to McDonald’s is a huge honor; coming here afterwards you’re exhausted and you kind of just want to get it over with and get back home but you really got to stick it through and fight through it and we did that, I’m really proud of my team.”

On when he started demanding the ball in the fourth quarter: “I wasn’t even demanding it to be honest. My team was basically just feeding me and they noticed that I was scoring and I had the hot hand [and] I was getting to the free throw line easily. There were points they could have easily taken a shot but they kept giving me the ball and I just want to thank my team for that. That’s kind of what happened.”

On what he’s going to take on to college that he learned from Findlay: “This is my first year at Findlay and it was struggle early in the season, leaving home and being away from family and everything. He (Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck) stuck with me through the ups and downs and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m definitely glad I came and it’s definitely changed my life. [Coach Peck] has made me a better person on and off the court. I’m definitely a better defender, a better player but he’s also made me a better person off the court.”

On whether he thought Findlay had enough time at the end of the game to come back: “As a basketball player, you never think that thought [that you won’t come back]. As a competitor, you know you’re going to win coming into every game and you can be down 20 with two minutes left and you’ll still have that fire in you to win that game. I wasn’t going to let my teammates lose and my teammates weren’t going to let me lose.”

On if he expected to be double-teamed in the fourth quarter: “I did, I was shocked at first when they didn’t start double-teaming me but at the same time it happens, and in a way I’m kind of glad that they didn’t [laughing].”

Findlay Prep power forward Anthony Bennett

On the week in general after winning the NHSI and participating in the McDonald’s All-American game: “It’s been a pretty fun week, pretty intense, going hard everyday for like a week now. It ended off pretty well, I’d say [laughing]. I’m kind of sick and tired, I’m losing my voice screaming [and] helping my team out, but it was pretty fun.”

On what he’s going to take on to college that he learned from Findlay: “This is my second year here and it’s just hard work. Every practice that we go through is just hard, we go through a lot of defensive stuff and then when you do go on offense, you’re playing most of the top players in the nation. I learned a lot coming here, I’m real happy I’m came here. As for next year, just going hard in practice every time, going hard in games because you never know when it could be your last.”

Findlay Prep small forward Winston Shepard

On what he’s going to take on to college that he learned from Findlay: “This is my third year and at first it was really rough for me. I stuck it out and just playing for [Findlay Prep head] coach [Michael] Peck is one of the best decisions of my life. It changed me more off the court than on the court because obviously to come here, you have to have talent but it just makes you a better person off the court. As far as on the court, I’m going to take the defensive mind-set, the number one thing coach Peck says is to get on the court as a freshman you have to be able to defend so I’m definitely taking that to college with me next year.”

On imagining what it would feel to be in Montverde’s situation after blowing the lead: “In a way I can because we lost in this tournament last year so in that standpoint I can. I’m just proud that I’m on this team and I wish those guys the best of luck but somebody had to lose.”

Findlay Prep point guard Nigel Williams-Goss

On whether Findlay should be labeled as the best team in the country over undefeated Oak Hill: “Our whole mindset coming into the tournament was to focus on us, we’ve got potentially three games left and we just want to focus on these three games. It’s a huge honor winning the NHSI and it puts us in the conversation. Anyone can debate, those kids did what they had to do and we felt we did what he had to do so I think that put us right there in the conversation.”

On whether he expects to be #1 in ESPN’s final Fab 50 rankings: “I’m not expecting anything, whatever happens, happens. I’m just proud that we came out here and all we could control was playing in these three games and winning these three games and that’s what we did. Whatever happens Monday, that’s what it is, I couldn’t be more proud of our team to get this win.”

On if he knew what Kasey Hill was going to do on the last possession of regulation: “When he had it and he was running down the clock, I looked and it was going from like six to five [seconds left] and he really hadn’t started to go yet and when it got to four I knew he was going to try to pull up because usually when you drive to the basket you go at 11 or 10. When I found that out, I knew I had to be ready for when he was going to pull up so the closer he got to the arc, the better the chance he was going to pull up so I kind of just made a guess and it turned out right.”

3 comments on “NHSI Championship Press Conference Quotes

  1. […] Press Conference See what each team had to say about the comeback. Quotes» […]

  2. […] ESPN NHSI Coverage • Championship | Stats • Photo Gallery | Quotes • Day One | […]

  3. […] Williams-Goss News • Five lead, visit planned • Findlay Prep wins NHSI • NHSI Photo Gallery • Championship Quotes […]

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