April 22, 2021

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GEICO Nationals: Montverde, Sunrise make boys final; Westlake, Paul VI to meet for girls title

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Boys semifinals

Montverde Academy 51, AZ Compass Prep (Ariz.) 49

HIGHLIGHTS: Caleb Houstan came through when he needed to most Friday night.

Despite going 2-for-9 from the field, the Michigan signee collected a shot from Jalen Duren as the shot clock expired. Duren’s shot hit the rim, and Houstan was there to collect it on a tap-in with 12 seconds remaining.

“I saw Jalen go up with it, and I didn’t know if it was going in or not,” Houstan said. “I just got to the offensive glass and tipped it in.”

TyTy Washington’s step-back triple did not go at the buzzer for AZ Compass Prep, as Montverde is back in another GEICO Nationals championship game.

RECRUIT WATCH: Montverde’s Jalen Duren, the nation’s No. 1 center in the 2022 class, totaled 14 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks inside for the Eagles.

Creighton signee Ryan Nembhard’s clutch triple late gave the Eagles a brief lead at 49-47. Nembhard had five points, four rebounds, and nine assists.

Washington ended the game with 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists for the Dragons.

STATS: Both teams were below 50% in this one, as the Dragons shot 45.5% from the field, to Montverde’s 41.8%.

Getting to the free throw line was a struggle for both teams, as Montverde and AZ Compass Prep combined for 10 attempts at the line. The Eagles converted 3-of-3, while the Dragons made 4-of-7.

Montverde outrebounded AZ Compass Prep, 36-19, notching 18 offensive rebounds.

— Alex Martin

Sunrise Christian (Kan.) 70, IMG Academy 63

HIGHLIGHTS: Kennedy Chandler’s final two minutes was the spark that the Buffaloes needed.

After nailing a three with 2:08 to go, the Tennessee signee spun past Michigan signee Moussa Diabate to give Sunrise a four-point lead they would never relinquish, despite being down 59-51 with under six minutes to go. The Buffaloes ended the game on a 19-4 run to defeat the reigning Geico Nationals champions.

“That is what I love about this team,” Chandler said. “We had the lead, we had our runs in the first two quarters, and (IMG) had their runs in the last two quarters. Every time we were in the huddle, we just said ‘we do this.’ We were down 59-51 with six minutes left. We did it yesterday. We did it against them when we played them in Virginia. Our fight doesn’t stop until the clock hits zero.

“That’s what I love about this team. They compete to the end.”

Chandler ended the day with 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists.

RECRUIT WATCH: Uncommitted junior guard Jaden Bradley led the Ascenders with 18 points, six assists, and three steals. Bradley is ranked No. 8 by ESPN, No. 7 by 247Sports, and No. 7 by Rivals.

Currently, Bradley is warm on Kentucky and North Carolina, who have a pedigree of churning out quality guards to the NBA on an annual basis.

Jett Howard and Tamar Bates added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for IMG.

Kansas commit Gradey Dick came one field goal away from a double-double, finishing with eight points and 10 rebounds.

STATS: To open the second half, the Ascenders made 10-of-12 shots in the third quarter, including a perfect 3-for-3 from distance. IMG ended the game shooting 46.2% from the field, compared to Sunrise’s 53.8%.

“I was pretty disappointed with our performance in the third quarter,” Sunrise coach Luke Barnwell said. “Obviously, they’re extremely talented, and if you take your foot off the gas defensively for like one second, they’re so stinking good and they share the ball so well that they will make you pay.”

The Buffaloes made 21-of-27 free throws, compared to IMG’s 9-of-14. Sunrise outrebounded IMG 29-20.

— Alex Martin

Girls semifinals

Paul VI (Va.) 52, Lake Highland Prep 49 OT

HIGHLIGHTS: Paul VI (11-0) held previously undefeated Florida High School Athletic Association Class 4A state champion Lake Highland Prep without a field goal in overtime to advance to Saturday’s GEICO National final.

Paul VI, which will face Westlake (Ga.) at 10 a.m. Saturday, was able to put Highland Prep away after it surrendered a five-point lead in the last two minutes of regulation. After Paul VI’s Jaelyn Talley (17 points, six rebounds) hit one of two free throws, Stefanie Ingram scored Highland Prep’s first field goal 6 minutes, 29 seconds into the fourth on a fadeaway. On Paul VI’s next possession, Ingram came up with a block and scored to tie the game at 47.

More: GEICO Nationals basketball: Oregon commit Nathan Bittle, Prolific Prep hang on; MJ Rice leads Oak Hill

More: GEICO Nationals results: Top seeds Montverde, IMG, Sunrise Christian, AZ Compass Prep advance

Highland Prep forced a turnover with 40 seconds left. Ingram’s runner in the lane fell short, giving Paul VI one last chance in regulation. The team from Virginia ran the clock down to under 3 seconds and had to settle for an off-balance Fiona Hastick jumper that barely drew rim.

Paul VI guard Lee Volker drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key for the first points of the extra period. She followed with two free throws after Eleecia Carter missed a 3 on the other end. In the final seconds, Carter and Ingram were just short on 3s of their own.

RECRUIT WATCH: Volker signed with coach Kara Lawson and Duke University in November. The 6-foot-1 three-time All-State selection had just eight points through four quarters but had all five of Paul VI’s overtime points. She finished 4-for-9 from the field and a clutch 4-for-4 from the free-throw line to go with six rebounds.

Uncommitted senior guard Isabell Perkins, a two-time All-State selection, had 10 points, four rebounds, four assists, and five steals, but her biggest contribution may have been keeping her team calm down the stretch. Paul VI didn’t fold despite 21 turnovers.

Highland Prep 6-foot-1 forward Kayla Blackshear, a University of Alabama signee, scored 10 points on 2-for-6 shooting and tallied 12 rebounds and two blocks while Nyla Harris, the 11th-ranked junior by ESPN, finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

STATS: With her team trailing 39-36 at the end of the third, Paul VI junior Alyssa Costigan showed out. Costigan scored nine of her team’s first 10 points in the quarter, including two 3s, to put her team up 46-41 midway through the fourth.

Carter led the way for Highland Prep with 14 points as the state champions shot just 30.8 percent from the field.

Despite being at a size disadvantage against Highland Prep, Paul VI outscored LHP 20-16 in the paint.

Westlake (Ga.) 64, Fremont (Utah) 54

No. 2-ranked Westlake built a nine-point halftime lead and led by as many as 14 but had to fight down the stretch to advance past No. 15 Fremont, which had a decided height advantage.

Behind a pair of buckets from senior Emma Calvert and another off a steal from Maggie Mendelson, Fremont went on a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter and pull with int 51-48.

That’s when Westlake senior Raven Johnson took over. With 4:31 left, she immediately knocked down a jump shot and found a streaking Taniya Latson down the court with a perfectly-placed baseball pass to start a 15-4 finish to the game.

RECRUIT WATCH: Johnson, the second-ranked senior in the country, is the centerpiece of University of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley’s recruiting class. She showed why on Friday, coming up one assist shy of a triple-double (25 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 7 steals).

It seemed like Johnson spent most of the game setting up junior guard Taniya Latson, who ESPN has as the No. 39 player in the Class of 2022. Latson shot 9-for-21 from the field and finished with 26 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Brianna Turnage, the 6-foot-2 forward who signed with Virginia Tech, tallied five points and 10 rebounds to go with three blocks for Westlake.

The 6-foot-5 Mendelson is the 21st-ranked sophomore recruit by ESPN. She was a matchup nightmare for Westlake, totaling 23 points on 10 of 16 from the field and six rebounds.

Calvert, a BYU signee, turned it on late, contributing a double-double (13 points, 11 rebound).

STATS: Westlake limited itself to 13 turnovers while Fremont had 20. The two teams shot similar percentages from the field with Fremont shooting nearly 45% and Westlake shooting 42%. The difference was Fremont was just 3 for 16 from beyond the 3-point arc.

GEICO Nationals

at Suncoast Credit Union Arena at FSW, Fort Myers

Wednesday, March 31

Boys

(7) Prolific Prep (Calif.) 45, (10) La Lumiere (Ind.) 43

(9) Oak Hill Academy (Va.) 84, (8) Pace Academy (Ga.) 77

Thursday, April 1

Boys

Game 3 — (3) IMG Academy 73, (6) Milton (Ga.) 68

Game 4 — (2) Sunrise Christian (Kan.) 56, (7) Prolific Prep (Calif.) 55

Game 5 — (1) Montverde 85, (9) Oak Hill Academy 64

Game 6 — (4) AZ Compass Prep 59, (5) Wasatch Academy (Utah) 54

Friday, April 2

Girls

Semifinal — (3) Paul VI (Va.) 52, (2) Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) 49

Semifinal — (1) Westlake (Ga.) 64, (4) Fremont (Utah) 54

Boys

Semifinal — (2) Sunrise Christian 70, (3) IMG 63 

Semifinal — (1) Montverde vs. (4) AZ Compass Prep, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2), late

Saturday, April 3

Paulo VI vs. Westlake, 10 a.m. (ESPN2)

Sunrise Christian vs. Montverde/AZ Compass Prep, noon (ESPN)

Follow The News-Press and Naples Daily News Sports Writer Alex Martin on Twitter: @NP_AlexMartin. For the best sports coverage in Southwest Florida, follow @newspresssports and @ndnprepzone on Instagram.

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