By: Steven Pham
Wichita, KS. - GEICO Nationals starts this Thursday, March 31st, and ends Sunday, April 2nd in Ft. Myers, FL. This year’s eight teams are #1 seed Sunrise Christian Academy, #2 IMG Academy, #3 Montverde Academy, #4 Link Academy, #5 Oak Hill Academy, #6 AZ Compass Prep, #7 La Lumiere, and #8 Prolific Prep. Either win or go home this week.
GEICO Nationals Boys Bracket: (From NIBC)
Sunrise’s path to the GEICO title starts against #8 seed Prolific Prep in the quarterfinals. This will be the last of the four quarterfinals games on Thursday, March 31st. The game is at 6 p.m. EST on ESPNU.
Prolific Prep is from Napa, California, and was founded in 2014. Prolific finished the regular season ranked #25 on ESPN’s Top 25 High School teams with a 25-6 record. Billy McKnight was the head coach of Prolific from 2015 to 2019, left for two years, and came back to Prolific for a chance at a national title.
Prolific is led by three ESPN Top 100 Players for the class of 2022. Starting with Adem Bona (ranked #13), M.J. Rice (#19) a future teammate with Gradey Dick at KU, and Tre White (#34). The rest of this roster includes; Jordan Pope, Dink Pate, Ben Jenkins, N’Famara Dabo, Mor Seck, and Zion Sensley.
This is the first meeting between these two programs this season but a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals at GEICO. Sunrise eked out a 56-55 win in the closing seconds of last year’s quarterfinal game.
This season both teams look a lot different and are both excited for the rematch. The winner will move onto the semifinals against either #4 seed Link Academy or #5 seed Oak Hill Academy on Friday, April 1st at 4:30 EST on ESPN2.
If Sunrise wins on Thursday and advances to the semifinals, they would play one of two familiar opponents in Link or Oak Hill. Sunrise won against Oak Hill back in December 64-61 and recently took down Link last month 74-65.
Sunrise is familiar with both opponents and both games were grit and grind games to the end. Both Oak Hill and Link have size and length that bothered Sunrise. Oak Hill struggled to begin the season but ended up 33-7 and rose to #7 on ESPN’s ranking. Oak Hill has a lot of momentum and is clicking at the right time. Link Academy has been on fire this season and ended at #5 on ESPN’s ranking with a 32-1 record.
If Sunrise wins on Thursday and Friday they will compete in the GEICO finals on Saturday, April 2nd at noon EST. There are four possible opponents; IMG Academy, Montverde Academy, AZ Compass Prep, and La Lumiere on this side of the bracket. The only team Sunrise has not played against is AZ Compass this season.
Sunrise swept IMG this season (2-0) with a win to start the NIBC season and a win to secure the NIBC title. Sunrise split the season series with Montverde (1-1) and that win gave Sunrise the #1 spot and was the turning point of the season. Sunrise won their only game against La Lumiere this season but it was not easy for the first three quarters. It was a tight game for the most part but Sunrise pulled away in the fourth.
There are numerous possibilities on how the tournament will unfold and a ton of different scenarios for all teams. The path to the title is never easy and each team can be beaten and will be pushed to their limits every day. Be sure to tune in to the madness and cheer on your Sunrise Buffalos!!!
Sunrise is hosting basketball camps this April for kids ages 6-14. There will be six sessions for the camps; April 12th, 14th, 19th, 21st, 26th, and 28th. All sessions are from 6-8 p.m. The camps are $50 for Sunrise students and $80 for non-Sunrise students and the fee covers all six sessions.
These camps give young kids a chance to learn and compete with the top high school players across the country like Dick, Mitchell, and the rest of the team. It gives kids and parents an inside look at some of the behind-the-scenes action at Sunrise, gives kids a chance to gain an edge on the competition and show off their talent. If you, your kids, or someone you know is interested in attending our camps, sign up here.
Sunrise basketball gear is still available! Get your Sunrise gear and support the team before the season concludes!!! To check out our store, click here.