FORT MYERS – Both IMG Academy basketball teams lost in the semifinal round of the GEICO Nationals on Friday at Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State University.
Playing Montverde Academy for the third time this season, the Ascenders boys came up just short in recording the hat trick, falling 62-57 to the Eagles in the first boys semi.
The IMG Academy girls played a good first quarter before New Hope Academy out of Maryland turned up the pressure and rolled to an 80-50 decision.
The finals are set for Saturday. At 10 a.m., Montverde Academy plays New Hope for the girls championship, followed by Montverde against Link Academy of Missouri.
Montverde Academy 62 IMG Academy 57
The third time was a charm for the Eagles, who made more plays down the stretch to move into the championship game at noon Saturday.
After losing twice to IMG Academy during the regular season, third-seeded Montverde Academy (23-4) took the lead for good on a Dillon Mitchell putback after a steal and two missed layups.
The second-seeded Ascenders (23-5) missed two shots on its next possession. Malik Reneau, who sat out nearly six minutes after picking up his fourth foul, converted a layup to put the Eagles up 58-54.
The Ascenders got within a point on a three-point play by Jarace Walker (Houston) with 53.7 seconds left.
Both teams missed free throws before Dariq Whitehead (Duke) and Jalen Hood-Schifino (Indiana) made two foul shots each in the final 18.8 seconds.
“We scrapped,” said Montverde Academy coach Kevin Boyle, who moved to 19-0 in Fort Myers and 17-0 in Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
IMG Academy coach Sean McAloon lamented a non-call on a drive to the basket with his team down a point in the final minute.
“I’m not blaming it on that, but it changed the tide of what we had to do,” McAloon said. “They were sound defensively and rebounded.”
The Ascenders also had to adjust without starting guard senior Jaden Bradley, an Alabama commit who played in the first two games against Montverde Academy, but has been sidelined with a foot injury,
“We weren’t getting back defensively. He leads our defense. And he kind of moves us offensively,” McAloon said of Bradley. “He’s super important. That’s not an excuse. We were right there. We were stagnant most of the game. “In the third quarter we got a nice little run. And then we went back to being stagnant in the fourth quarter.”
Down 41-39, IMG Academy scored the final eight points of the third quarter to take a six-point lead entering the final eight minutes. Walker had three and Keyonte George, playing like he did not want his high school career to end, had the other five points.
One of the adjustments Montverde Academy made after the first two games was having Reneau guard Walker, who finished with 11 points.
“They won on a buzzer-beater in the first game, but we were right there. They were the better team in the second game,” Boyle said of the 65-64 loss on Dec. 3 and the 57-53 loss on Jan. 17 to the Ascenders.
For IMG Academy, it was a tough postgame chat.
“Their hearts got ripped out,” said McAloon, who has seven seniors among his eight players.
George (Baylor) finished with 21 points, including his second four-point play in as many days and a halftime buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right side after the Ascenders called timeout with 3.8 seconds left.
Jett Howard, again with father Michigan coach Juwan Howard in attendance, finished with 12 points for IMG Academy, which was outrebounded 40-28.
Whitehead matched George with 21 points for game-high honors. Dillon Mitchell (Texas) pulled down 13 rebounds.
New Hope Academy (Md.) 80 IMG Academy 50
After a sluggish start, the Tigers picked up their intensity on defense and rolled into the championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday against Montverde Academy on ESPN2.
Trailing 16-14 after one quarter, New Hope Academy applied pressure defense and opened the second quarter with an 18-2 run.
The Tigers had nine steals and forced 12 turnovers in the first half when they grabbed a 34-20 halftime lead.
The aggressive style continued in the second half. Top-seeded New Hope Academy tallied the final nine points of the third quarter to assume a 30-point lead.
IMG Academy (12-5) had a 13-0 run late in the third quarter after going down 78-37.
New Hope Academy finished with 17 steals and forced 21 IMG Academy turnovers.
Senior Kailen Gilbert (Arizona) led fourth-seeded IMG Academy with 20 points on 8-for-25 shooting. Coming off a 24-point performance in the first round against Bishop McNamara (Md.), Grace VanSlooten (Oregon) had 11 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
New Hope Academy (28-2) received 25 points from senior Jayln Brown. Junior Laila Reynolds filled the stat sheet with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Seniors Kennedy Fauntleroy and Taniya Lawson each added 11 points for the Tigers.
Venice 9, Out-of-Door Academy 0
IMG Summer Classic
b V, John Whitney (2-2, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Embury (4-5, 2 runs, RBI), Marek Houston (2-4, 2 RBI, run), Cole Schumaker (2-3, run), Desavion Cassaway (1-2, 2 runs, 2 RBI)
PITCHING: V, John Whitney (2 IP, 1 hit, 4 Ks), Simon Yochum (1 IP, 2 Ks)
OF NOTE: Venice scored all nine runs in the first three innings. … Six Venice pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout with eight strikeouts. … The game was moved from IMG Academy to Out-of-Door Academy because of poor field conditions.
Riverview 6, Lakewood Ranch 1
TOP PLAYERS: R, Elijah Hurt (2-3, 2 2B, run), Will St. Onge (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI); LR, Lochlan Radloff (2-3)
PITCHING: R, Sam Klanot (7 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 3 Ks); LR, Jack Muller (3 ⅓ IP, 1 hit, 3 Ks)
OF NOTE: Riverview scored all six runs in the first three innings.
Sarasota 11, Seminole 3
AT: Sarasota High
TOP PLAYERS: Sa, Bradley Ramsden (2-3, 2B, 2 runs), Mario Trivella (2-2, 2B, 3 RBI, run), Lance Trippel (2-4, 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Tyler Maszak (1-3, 3 RBI), Luke Jackson (2-4, 2B, run, RBI), Rocco Depastino (2-4, 2 RBI, run)
PITCHING: Sa, Bernard Barnes Jr. (5 IP, 3 hits, 8 Ks), Bradley Ramsden (2 IP, 2 Ks)
Lemon Bay 11, DeSoto County 3
AT: Lemon Bay
TOP PLAYERS: LB, Madison Kinkade (3-4, 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Izzy Brickle (3-3, 2B, 3B, run, 5 RBI), Mackenzie Vaughan (1-3, 2 RBI), Ella Kraszewski (1-4, 2 runs)
PITCHING: LB, Mackenzie Vaughan (6 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned, 2 walks, 5 Ks)
Sarasota 15, Venice 3
TOP PLAYERS: S, Brooke Bendel (4-5, 2 HRs), Rylee Miller (4-5, HR, 2 2B), Jaydan Baker (2-3, HR)
PITCHING: S, Miranda Gill (WP), Ryleigh Bennett
OF NOTE: Sarasota scored nine runs in the seventh inning. ... Venice suffered its first loss of the season.
Class 3A-District 12 Meet
Team scoring: 1. Venice 80, 2. Riverview 67, 3. North Port 44, 4. Sarasotal 13
Venice results: First place, Aiden DeBrun (129-pound weight class), Logan Ballard (199), George Philip (238); second place Makai Barnard (119), Rylan Kriska (129), Remy Frick (138), Michael Phillips (154), Michael Peavley (183), Mariano Lopez (219), David Raney (Unlimited); third place, Jaziah Powell (119), Max Hale (139), Eli Seed (183), Collin Adkins (Unlimited); fifth place, Dominic Cira (169), sixth place, Bradley Marte (169), Zach Zapulla (219), Mason Leonard (238)
Team scoring: 1. North Port 54, 2. Sarasota 27
Dennis Maffezzoli is the deputy sports editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and chief reporter for Sarasota Herald-Tribune and HTpreps covering Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Support local journalism by subscribing.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: HIGH SCHOOL ROUNDUP: Both IMG Academy teams fall in semifinals