Watch: IMG Academy tops Milton in thriller to finish third at City of Palms
The Ascenders defeated the Eagles 76-73 to win the third place championship game at the City of Palms on December 22, 2021.
Dustin B Levy, Fort Myers News-Press
IMG Academy 76, Milton 73
Eric Dailey said it felt like deja vu.
With the score tied at 71 and a minute to go, the IMG forward hit a clutch corner-3 against Milton from the same spot on the court of Suncoast Credit Union Arena that he did at Geico Nationals against the Eagles last year.
“It was the exact same play, and Jaden (Bradley) made the exact same read,” IMG head coach Sean McAloon said. “They all sucked in on Jaden, and he kicked it out in the corner. It was the exact same spot that Eric hit it last year in Geico. Scary.”
A key steal by Keyonte George and a pair of made free throws by Jarace Walker sealed the victory for the Ascenders to finish in third at the Culligan City of Palms Classic on Wednesday night.
It was the second night in a row the team was playing in an electrifying thriller, but, this time, they came out on top.
“We finally got some stops,” McAloon said. “We finally closed some possessions, got some rebounds.”
The win required the Ascenders to fend off an inspired performance by the Eagles, who have played the same five starters for nearly 32 minutes each game three nights in a row.
“I think the fatigue factor set in,” Milton head coach Allen Whitehart said.
Guard Bruce Thornton, an Ohio State commit, brought the house down in the first half, putting up 25 points including a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“I was just playing my game,” Thornton said. “I was trying to get a win before I left.”
Thornton was limited to four points the rest of the game, and McAloon credited a “mini-adjustment,” upping the attention on the Milton playmaker so that he, alone, couldn’t beat them.
Keyonte George, who led the Ascenders with 19 points and five assists, switched on to defend Thornton for much of the second half after Bradley picked up his third foul.
Dailey had 17 points and nine rebounds for IMG, while Kanaan Carlyle played a strong second half to finish with 17 points for Milton.
The Eagles’ tough play against top-ranked teams in IMG and Montverde, in addition to wins against Charlotte and Calvary Christian, sent a message about the team that has battled off-court adversity and entered the tournament with a 3-2 record.
“We’re going to fight, man,” Whitehart said. “If you’re going to play against us, you’re going to have to earn what you get. … I think we belong on the national level.”
For IMG, finishing the tournament with a win is a confidence builder, but the team knows there are areas to improve.
“I think we know that we have some defensive deficiencies that we can work on, but we also know that we can conjure it up when we need to,” McAloon said. “I mean, offensively, we’re a problem. I think people are going to have trouble guarding us for most of the year.”
Watch: Calvary Christian thwarts North Little Rock to claim fifth place at City of Palms
The Eagles defeated the Charging Wildcats 64-55 in the fifth place championship game at the Culligan City of Palms Classic on Dec. 22, 2021.
Dustin B Levy, Fort Myers News-Press
Calvary Christian 64, North Little Rock 55
In a streaky battle, the Eagles shook free of the Charging Wildcats in the fourth quarter to win the fifth-place championship at the Culligan City of Palms Classic.
After trailing for most of the contest, North Little Rock managed to get ahead 41-40 at the end of the third quarter, but Calvary quickly turned the tables with strong ball movement to break down the Wildcats’ defenses.
“It was a game of runs today, so we’re happy that we came out and finished it off,” Calvary head coach Cilk McSweeney said.
Calvary’s starting five all finished with double digits in scoring. Taylor Hendricks led the team with 18 points in addition to eight rebounds, while Gregg Glenn put up a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
North Little Rock’s Kel’el Ware, a 7-foot-tall Oregon commit, led all players with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles outscored the Wildcats 34-26 in the paint by doing their best to quash the threat of Ware by drawing him out.
“I was just trying to stay patient and listen to what coach was saying because the big guy was on me so I was just going to try to, like, move around, and, with that, I got some pretty easy buckets,” Hendricks said.
The Eagles lost their first game of the season, against Milton, earlier in the tournament. They were able to shake off the disappointment and leave the tournament with a trophy on Wednesday.
“We made the best of our situation as far as we beat quality teams,” McSweeney said. “These are the games that we want to play, and this is the games that’s going to prepare these guys for that next level, and they’re showing up and they’re playing well.”
Dr. Phillips 48, Greensboro Day 34.
Erenst Udeh Jr. led the Dr. Phillips Panthers to consolation championship over Greensboro Day at the final day of the Culligan City of Palms Classic.
The future University of Kansas big man finished with a double-double, with 17 points and 15 rebounds, and received high praise from Bengals head coach Freddy Johnson.
“21 (Udeh) is a man child,” Johnson said. “That shows you why he’s going to Kansas. He’s the best big man since we played Bam (Adebayo, Miami Heat All-Star center) in our conference, which we still won which is unbelievable. He’s as good as Bam was in high school today.”
The defending 7A state champions got off to a slow start in the first quarter, only scoring six points but began to turn things up in the final three quarters.
“Guys paid attention this morning during film and walk through stuff and just competed and cared every single possession about getting stops,” Panthers coach Ben Witherspoon said. “We were great defensively, started out rough offensively in the first quarter but the last three quarters I think we more or more ourselves.”
The Panthers held a comfortable lead for most of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, the Bengals hit a few big threes from Jaydon Young, and Graham Worland brought the game within one with about five minutes left.
Worland finished with 10 points for the Bengals in the loss.
Witherspoon called a timeout to regroup his team and it worked. Jackson Slater and Jordan Tiller returned the favor and hit two threes themselves to put Dr. Phillips back on track, as they extended their lead to 14 with just over a minute left in the game.
“As a staff, we have the most confidence in Jackson,” Witherspoon said. “He’s a great player, steady for us, handles the ball, and makes open threes. He’s a scholarship player no question.”
A Riley Kugel slam dunk was the exclamation point for the Panthers in the win. The Mississippi State-bound guard cut to the basket and slammed home a powerful dunk over a Bengal defender.
“It’s really a thing me and Earnest got going you know,” Kugel said. “Whenever he has the ball in the post he just looks, we just give each other that look, and I know it’s time to cut to the basket.”
The Panther will head back to Orlando with some silverware and an abundance of confidence after ending the City of Palms tournament with three straight wins.
“It definitely shows us that we belong in the conversation with some the best teams in the country,” Witherspoon said. “Winning these three games definitely lets us know that we have a chance to get to everybody.”
Ballard 77, St. John College’s HS 66: The tandem of Maker Bar and Gabe Sisk led the Bruins to victory over the Cadets. Bar finished with 22, followed by Sisk with 20. For the Cadets, Christian Watson led the team with 23 points and seven rebounds.
Isidore Newman 64, Charlotte 61: Canin Jefferson scored 28 points to help the Greenies top the Tarpons in a challenger-round game. Charlotte’s Logan Clauser and John Gamble put up 20 and 17 points, respectively.