There were three main reasons Findlay Prep was able to make a tremendous 16-point comeback in the fourth quarter against Montverde Academy at the ESPNHS National High School Invitational -- coaching, talent and a shot clock.
Believing in your team is very powerful and Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck knew his team could make a comeback but the question was would it?
Peck has pushed all the right buttons and led his program to a 32-1 record this season, finishing No. 2 in the Fab 50. Peck and his trusted staff of associate head coach Todd Simon, former Georgetown great Jerome Williams, Andy Johnson and athletic director Brett Price had their work cut out for them.
"First, I called a timeout to rip them because they usually respond," Peck said. "In the next time out I rationalized with them. How do you want your careers to end? How do you want it to look years from now? We can't control our opponents, or the officials but we can control what we do."
There is no denying the level of talent on Findlay Prep. The roster has NBA-like size in terms of height, length and girth.
Extremely gifted players need discipline and to be taught to play together, and for each other, which is not an easy task. For anyone who thinks it's easy to coach talent, never had talent to coach.
"It was in the fourth quarter when they responded and boy did they ever make a comeback," Peck said.
From over 20 years of coaching and being a part of winning championships, I know you can't win without talent but I also have learned from experience it takes more than talent to perform well in the big moment and win championships.
You need certain traits such as belief, confidence, focus and toughness. Someone has to lead the way when your team has its back against the wall.
Enter Brandon Ashley who had the signature game of his senior year.
"He plays with poise, not a lot of emotion. Doesn't get too high or too low," Peck said. "Brandon is a very intellectual individual. He plays with a quiet confidence."
The Arizona signee was outstanding when his team needed him the most. Ashley finished with 31 points in 24 minutes and a majority of those coming in the fourth quarter.
Nigel Williams-Goss also came up big, while playing through a torn tendon in his finger on his shooting hand. He knocked down a big 3-pointer, made some key free throws and scored on a floater that sealed the comeback victory for Findlay Prep.
However, possibly the most important factor in Findlay Prep's big comeback was that the game was being played with a shot clock, something not all high school games use.
"If there was not a shot clock, we might of held the ball in the third quarter more to shorten the game," Montverde Academy coach Kevin Boyle said. "I still prefer to have a shot clock even though it worked to our disadvantage in this case."
"We knew that they could not hold the ball," Peck said. "They had to try and run an offense at some point and a shot clock helped create a belief that we could come back and win."
If we really care about the development of high school players, a universal shot clock will make every player work on their skills more than ever. A shot clock leads to more possessions and more possessions lead to players making more decisions, which will enhance their overall instincts for the game.
Without a shot clock in the NHSI championship, the game would have been over early in the second half and no one would ever learn how to finish a game out.
Simply put, if there was no shot clock in the game, there would be no comeback.