By: Steven Pham
Photo by: Kobi Russom
Wichita, KS. - NO. 1 SUNRISE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE INAUGURAL NIBC SEASON!!! Sunrise moves to 21-1 on the season after taking down No. 3 IMG Academy 57-52.
It was a slow start for both teams on offense. IMG scored the first two baskets of the game and Sunrise immediately responded. It was a back-and-forth quarter with both teams trading baskets. Sunrise had a balanced attack to start the game. Six of the seven players who played in the first quarter scored for Sunrise.
IMG's Jarace Walker and Eric Dailey Jr. had 4 points and at least 3 rebounds each. Sunrise's Bobi Klintman came off the bench with hustle and energy. He hustled and gave Sunrise extra possessions with a quick 3 points and 3 rebounds. Sunrise led 14-10 after the first quarter.
Shooting struggles continued for Sunrise in the second quarter. IMG took advantage and went on two different 7-0 runs in the quarter. Walker was the best player on the court in the first half and did a little bit of everything for IMG. He had 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in the first half.
The two All-Americans for Sunrise struggled in the first half to find their shot. Gradey Dick only had 4 points and Mark Mitchell had 2 points. Sunrise needed somebody to step up and keep them in the game. Klintman and Scotty Middleton had 5 points each and kept the game close at the half. Sunrise trailed 28-23 at the half.
IMG stayed aggressive to start the third quarter by attacking the rim and crashing the offensive glass. IMG received extra possessions from offensive rebounds and pushed their lead to nine, their largest lead of the game.
Jerome Beya came into the game and made it difficult for IMG to drive to the basket and get offensive rebounds. Sunrise was able to get stops with Beya in the game and went on an 8-0 run to bring the game within one point.
IMG's Walker responded with a quick 4 points but Sunrise responded with another run. Sunrise was able to shoot their way back into the game with 3 threes in a row (9-0 run) to retake the lead towards the end of the quarter. Sunrise regained momentum and led 42-38 going into the fourth quarter.
Sunrise's Dick and Layden Blocker had a phenomenal second half and extended their run to 13-0 at the beginning of the quarter. IMG retaliated with an 8-0 run to tie the game up at 46.
Keyonte George had a quiet first three quarters but came alive in the fourth to keep IMG in the game. He took over for IMG and had 9 of his 13 points in the quarter. George tied the game at 52 with a little over a minute left in the game.
Sunrise shot 40% from the field, 33% from three, and went 9-13 (69%) from FT. Sunrise had 31 total rebounds, 10 offensive, and 21 defensive. Sunrise had 11 assists, no blocks, and 6 steals. Sunrise's bench outscored IMG's 18-3.
Dick had a game-high 16 points on 5-18 shooting (4-6 from FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Blocker had 13 points on 5-6 shooting (3-3 from three), 4 rebounds, and 3 assists off the bench. Middleton had 10 points on 4-6 shooting (2-2 from three), 4 rebounds, and 1 steal. The two emerging stars in the junior class; Blocker and Middleton stepped up and helped Sunrise come away with the win.
Sunrise are the champions of the NIBC! What a season it was in a tough conference with some of the best talents and teams across the nation.
Thank you to ESPN and the people at the NIBC for coming together and creating a conference of elite high school teams. This season generated a ton of entertaining games and fan interest. The future of the NIBC is bright, loaded with talent, and drama.