By: Steven Pham
Photos by: Kobi Russom & Carter Lange
Wichita, KS. - No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy moves to 7-0 on the season after a 64-61 win over No. 13 Oak Hill Academy. Sunrise moves to 2-0 in the NIBC season and Oak Hill falls to 0-2 in NIBC play after this tough loss. The starting five for Sunrise was; Dillon Hunter, Scotty Middleton, Gradey Dick, Mark Mitchell, and Cam Corhen once again.
Both teams were trading baskets to start the game off. Sunrise had stellar ball movement and had balanced scoring from their top players. Dick, Mitchell, Corhen all scored in the first, and Sunrise’s bench came alive early as Bobi Klintman and Layden Blocker got in a rhythm early. For Oak Hill, Judah Mintz had some spectacular assists and got his supporting cast involved. Chris Livingston and Justin McBride got it going offensively. Sunrise led 15-10 after quarter one.
Blocker played incredible defense in the quarter and that turned into quick transition points for Sunrise. Sunrise took control at the beginning of the quarter but Livingston and Caleb Foster responded and took control towards the end. Livingston finished the first half with 11 points to lead Oak Hill. Sunrise had five players with multiple baskets to end a balanced half offensively. It was all tied up at halftime 27-27.
Dick got it going offensively with a quick nine points in the quarter. Mitchell had a phenomenal quarter as well attacking the rim, finding open cutters and shooters, and playing intense defense. Even with Sunrise’s offensive success, Oak Hill kept crawling back into the game. Livingston continued to score and Foster went on an 8-0 run by himself to end the quarter. It was all tied up at 46 after the third.
Blocker stayed aggressive and stepped up when Sunrise needed a score. He made winning plays down the stretch and became another scoring threat for Sunrise. "I've been trusting the process and doing whatever coach needs me to do; coming with energy on both sides of the floor, playing my role, being aggressive, and getting my teammates involved."
Livingston and Foster kept Oak Hill in the game until the final minute. Both Mitchell and Dick made impactful plays in the fourth. Mitchell got to the line five times and Dick hit huge shots down the stretch and drew an important charge to help close the game out.
Sunrise shot 47.2% from the field, a season-low 20% from three, and 11-13 from the free-throw line. Sunrise had 28 total rebounds: 17 defensive and 11 offensive rebounds. Sunrise had 11 assists, 8 steals, and a block. Sunrise dominated inside and outscored Oak Hill 42-26 points in the paint.
Mitchell went 5-10 from the field (9-10 from FT) with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. Dick had 19 points on 7-13 shooting (3-7 from three), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals. Blocker had 12 points off the bench on 6-9 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Corhen went 3-5 from the field with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal. Klintman shot 3-5 from the field with 6 points off the bench and 1 rebound. Sunrise’s bench outscored Oak Hill’s bench 20-6 and Blocker had 12 of the 20 points.
Sunrise will finish off the first week of the NIBC season against No. 1 Montverde Academy at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN+. To take down the reigning national champs it will take "Locking in on defense and preventing them from transition points and offense will take care of itself, Blocker said. "Be aggressive, move the ball, get in the paint, but it really all starts with our defense." Montverde will be coming off a heartbreaking loss to No. 2 IMG Academy last night. To check out what to expect in today’s game, click here.