Game Recap: Combine Academy (Hoophall Classic)
By: Steven Pham
Photos by: Kobi Russom
Wichita, KS. - No. 1 Sunrise Christian Academy escapes an overtime thriller against No. 18 Combine Academy 72-68. Sunrise will move to 13-1 on the season and Combine will drop to 11-4.
The starting five for Sunrise were Dillon Hunter, Layden Blocker, Gradey Dick, Mark Mitchell, and Cam Corhen. For Combine; Jayden Epps, A.J. Smith, Preston Murphy Jr., Matai Baptiste, and Patrick Wessler.
Both teams started the game off poorly on the offensive end. There were a lot of sloppy possessions and a lot of missed shots inside early. Epps got it going offensively and did not stop the entire game. He had 11 of Combine's 13 points. Sunrise shot 19% from the field and Combine shot 28% from the field. Sunrise had a 14-13 first-quarter lead.
Sunrise was dominating the offensive glass the entire game but struggled to score inside. There were plenty of missed opportunities inside that gave Combine momentum. Sunrise's shooting woes made it difficult on themselves. Sunrise was unable to get into their defensive sets with all the missed shots.
Corhen and Mitchell were able to get a little bit of offense going for Sunrise. Both had 9 points in the first half and kept Sunrise in the game. The supporting cast for Combine got in a rhythm as well. Wessler, Smith, and Murphy Jr. combined for 14 points in the first half to go along with Epps's 13 points. Sunrise would trail 26-30 at the end of the half.
The guards for Combine; Epps, Smith, and Murphy Jr. were able to get downhill and get easy looks in the paint or get to the free-throw line with ease. This gave Sunrise trouble the entire game.
Those Combine guards continued to score at will and pushed the lead to a game-high 9 points towards the end of the quarter. Scotty Middleton and Mitchell were able to cut into the lead and brought it to 42-47 before the fourth quarter.
After trailing since the second quarter, Sunrise was able to go on a run and take back the lead 53-51 in the early stages of the fourth. Dick and Hunter were able to hit some huge shots and kept Sunrise in it.
In the final stretches, Mitchell was the go-to guy for Sunrise and Epps was that guy for Combine. Both stars traded baskets towards the end and it all came down to Mitchell at the free-throw line. Mitchell went to the line down 59-61 with 10 seconds left in the game and secured both to send the game into overtime tied at 61.
Mitchell kept it going offensively and hit a three to give Sunrise an early 64-61 lead. Wessler and Murphy Jr. responded with back-to-back trips to the free-throw line to put Combine back up 65-64. Blocker came in clutch down the stretch and scored 5 straight points to give Sunrise a 69-65 lead.
Murphy Jr. would respond with a three to get the game within a point. Blocker went down the other end and scored inside to give Sunrise a 71-68 lead in the closing seconds. Combine had a couple of chances towards the end to hit a three to tie the game but missed all of them. Mitchell would ice the game with one free throw and secure a victory for Sunrise.
Sunrise shot 39% from the field, 38% from three, and went 16-20 (80%) from FT. Sunrise had a season-high 43 total rebounds, season-high 17 offensive and 26 defensive. Sunrise had 12 assists, a season-high 7 blocks, and 3 steals.
Mitchell had a team-high 23 points on 8-19 shooting (5-6 from FT), 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block. Dick had 14 points on 5-13 shooting (3-3 from FT), 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 2 steals for his second double-double of the season. Blocker finished the game with 12 points (7 in OT) on 4-7 shooting (3-4 from FT), 9 rebounds (6 offensively), and 4 assists. Corhen had 12 points on 3-8 shooting (2-2 from three), 7 rebounds (5 offensively), 2 assists, and 2 blocks.
Sunrise was able to squeeze out a comeback win and will turn their heads to No. 25 Wasatch Academy this afternoon at 5 p.m. EST on ESPN+. Wasatch is coming off an overtime win as well against Patrick School yesterday. This will be the final game for both teams at the Hoophall Classic.