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Opponents: GEICO Nationals Preview

Updated: Mar 30

By: Steven Pham 

Graphic by: Jon D’Angelo 

Wichita, KS. - Sunrise Christian Academy finished the season 21-7 and snuck into the eighth and final spot at GEICO Nationals. GEICO quarterfinals are streamed on ESPNU on March 30th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST, semifinals are on ESPN2 on March 31st from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, and the finals are on ESPN on April 1st at 11 a.m. CST.

The eights teams that made GEICO are #1 seed Montverde Academy, #2 LuHi Academy, #3 Prolific Prep, #4 Link Academy, #5 St. Paul VI, #6 IMG Academy, #7 AZ Compass, and your #8 Sunrise.  

First Round Matchup 

Sunrise will take on the top seed Montverde Academy in the first round on Thursday, March 30th at 5 p.m. CST on ESPNU. This will be the third matchup between these two teams. Montverde swept the season series but Sunrise gave them some trouble in their first meeting. 

Players to watch in this matchup are; Matas Buzelis (Sunrise), Layden Blocker (Sunrise), Derik Queen (Montverde), Cooper Flagg (Montverde), and Kwame Evans Jr. (Montverde). Buzelis is the primary scorer for Sunrise and needs to play his best game of the season to give Sunrise a chance against this deep Montverde team. 

Blocker became more aggressive towards the end of the regular season and helped Sunrise to some crucial wins. He needs to continue this aggressive mindset, keep getting downhill, and make plays inside the paint for his team. 

Queen gave Sunrise troubles in their first matchup with his 30-point double-double. He impacted the game on both ends of the floor and could not be contained in the paint. Sunrise must keep him away from the rim and offensive glass. 

Flagg is only a sophomore but is a tremendous scorer and playmaker for Montverde. He impacted their second matchup on the defensive end with three steals to start the game. Evans Jr. was on Montverde’s winning team last year and is looking to repeat as champions. He has the playoff experience and understanding of what it takes to win championships. 

Sunrise must stay alert of Montverde’s elite shooters, win the rebounding battle, and protect the paint. Sunrise will need help from their bench unit against Montverde’s deep rotation. Sunrise had an up-and-down season but can shake up this tournament with this big upset. 

Other Matchups 

#2 seed LuHi Academy will take on a great defensive #7 seed AZ Compass team. LuHi is the surprise team of the season and became one of the top teams this year. LuHi can make a deep run at GEICO with NIBC’s leading scorer and breakout player VJ Edgecombe. 

#3 seed Prolific Prep takes on #6 seed IMG Academy. Prolific has one of the best back-court duos in the nation with Aden Holloway and Trey Green. Both guards are shifty shot-creators and playmakers. IMG is led by Blue Cain who has emerged as one of the best players in the NIBC. 

#4 seed Link Academy takes on #5 seed St. Paul VI. Link is led by Ja’Kobe Walter, he can score from anywhere on the court and is an athletic wing. Link’s Elliot Cadeau is one of the best guards in the junior class and can control the pace of the game. He is an elite facilitator but can also get a bucket if needed. 

St Paul VI is a sleeper team as they are more of a traditional high school but are filled with talent like DeShawn Harris-Smith. They can make noise in this tournament and put their school on the map.

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