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Game Recap: Link Academy (Heartland Hoops)

By: Steven Pham

Photos by: Kobi Russom

Layden Blocker gets amped up after a tough finish inside the lane.

Wichita, KS. - No. 1 Sunrise Christian Academy (22-1) hands No. 3 Link Academy (26-1) their first loss of the season 74-65. Sunrise officially clinched the No. 1 seed at GEICO Nationals with the win.

1st Quarter

Both teams were trading baskets to start the game. Link’s size gave Sunrise trouble in the opening minutes. Link dominated the offensive glass early and made it difficult for Sunrise to get easy baskets. Scotty Middleton and Mark Mitchell found some offensive rhythm for Sunrise.

Middleton led Sunrise with 8 points and Mitchell followed with 6 points in the quarter. Jordan Walsh led Link with 6 points in the quarter. Sunrise closed the quarter with an 8-1 run to open a 21-13 lead for Sunrise after the first quarter.

2nd Quarter

Sunrise pushed their lead to double-digits in the opening minutes of the quarter. Layden Blocker came off the bench and made an immediate impact on both ends. Mitchell built on his phenomenal first half with 4 of his 10 points in the quarter. Gradey Dick drew a lot of attention on offense but still led both teams in scoring with 11 points.

Trey Green and Tarris Reed got their game going in the quarter. Green’s outside shooting and contested shot-making brought Link back into the game. He had 7 of his team-high 10 points in the quarter. Reed was able to slow down Sunrise’s penetration in the paint and caused a lot of issues to end the quarter. He came alive with 5 of his 7 points in the quarter. Sunrise would hang on to a 35-30 lead at the half.

Mark Mitchell shows off his emotions after a crucial and-1 finish inside.

3rd Quarter

It was a back-and-forth battle in the paint between two elite forwards Mitchell and Reed. Mitchell helped push Sunrise’s lead back to 9 points a couple of times in the quarter. He added 6 points in the quarter.

Reed hunted for the mismatches down below when Cam Corhen sat down with foul trouble. He had a size advantage over smaller forwards and guards on Sunrise. He set the tone for Link with 8 points in the quarter and carried it into the fourth. Sunrise led 48-44 as Link started to cut into the lead.

4th Quarter

Sunrise came out on an 8-1 run led by Mitchell with 6 quick points to push the lead back to double digits. Link refused to back down and kept answering back with small little runs of their own. Reed was a force inside, either scoring or getting to the line. He added 7 more points to his team-high 22 points.

Valentino Pinedo gave Sunrise important minutes down the stretch with tough rebounds, defensive stops, and a score. Blocker consistently makes plays in the fourth quarter for Sunrise all season long. He strung together 5 of his 11 points in the quarter, got his teammates involved, and locked in defensively. This was a team victory for Sunrise with all the players getting involved and contributing down the stretch.

The regular season is coming to an end as Sunrise has three games remaining. Sunrise will get ready for their Tennessee road trip this upcoming week at the Dr. Pepper Classic. Senior night will be on February 25th back home to wrap up the regular season.

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