By: Steven Pham
Graphic by: Ryan Deppen
Wichita, KS. - No. 1 Sunrise Christian Academy will be tested this week with three huge games in New Jersey for the Metro Classic. The Metro Classic has taken place every year since 2013 and is a platform to showcase some of the premier players and talents all across the country.
Game #1 Sunrise’s first game will be a NIBC matchup against Bishop Walsh. The game is on Thursday, February 3rd at 3 p.m. EST and streaming on ESPNU. The last meeting between these two teams was on February 15th, 2020. Sunrise dominated and won 78-37.
Bishop Walsh is struggling in NIBC play with only one win out of seven games played thus far. They are currently 6th in the standings with only a win against Wasatch Academy. After this game against Sunrise, Bishop Walsh will have two more NIBC games against Legacy Early College and Wasatch.
Dan Prete has been the head coach of Bishop Walsh since 2018. Their roster includes; William Patterson, Mikey Allen, Tj Robinson, Daniel Dormu, Tailon Manson, Travis Roberts, Maor Nekrashevich, Jason Rivera, Villius Siania, Isaac Temiloia, and Mike Williams. Roberts is leading the NIBC in three-point field goal percentage at 52%.
Sunrise must handle their business on the road against teams they are projected to win against. Sunrise has their eyes set on a first-place finish in the NIBC.
Sunrise will play Westtown on Friday, February 4th at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN+. This will be the first-ever meeting between these teams. This is the first and only game for Westtown at the Metro Classic.
Westtown is 18-6 this season with some huge wins and close losses. Westtown has taken care of the matchups they were projected to win but have fallen short against the top-tier teams across the nation. How will they fare against the No. 1 team in the nation?
Seth Berger is in his 11th season as the head coach of Westtown. Berger is a natural winner with multiple championships in the Friends Schools League, state championships, and numerous holiday tournament wins. He is ready to take the next big step and chase after national titles.
Westtown is led by the No. 1 player in ESPN’s top 100 for the class of 2022, Dereck Lively. The Duke commit is arguably the best player in the class and the nation. Lively’s teammates include; Quin Berger, Ian Brandt, Jameel Brown, Wade Chiddick, Noah Cloud, Kevin Kang, Julius Kimani, Matthew Mayock, Jahmare Memphis, Benjamin Rill, Seyphon Triplett, and Diego Uribe.
Sunrise has their hands full with Lively’s size and athleticism. He can single-handedly dominate and take over a game. Sunrise has to force someone else on Westtown to beat them.
Sunrise’s last game of the Metro Classic will be against No. 3 IMG Academy on Saturday, February 5th at 5 p.m. EST. on ESPN+. Sunrise won the first meeting this season 68-62 in the first-ever NIBC matchup. Now both teams will meet for the last game of the inaugural NIBC season and play for the NIBC title.
IMG is 21-2 on the season and has lost only one game since the first matchup between these two back in December. IMG lost to Oak Hill Academy this past December and has won 11 straight games since.
IMG will play No. 6 La Lumiere on day one of the Metro Classic and play The Patrick School on day two before the NIBC finale. This will be the biggest game of the season for both teams and must-see basketball.
IMG’s Jarace Walker is sixth in scoring in the NIBC with 16.5 PPG on a league-high 66% shooting from the field. He also leads the league in blocked shots with 2.3 per game. Walker’s co-star Keyontae George struggled in the first meeting with only 8 points on 3-11 shooting. IMG needs George or the supporting cast to step up if they want to come away with a victory this Saturday.
Each game becomes more meaningful as the season winds down. Sunrise has a challenging next few weeks as they begin to shape into postseason form. It all starts this week with the Metro Classic.