What a game. What a comeback. What a stunner.
Video: GEICO Nationals: Montverde vs. IMG Academy
Ascenders erase 16-point deficit to stun defending GEICO champs.
The Ascenders never gave up, even after a late third-quarter flurry by the Eagles left little hope for IMG Academy. But, in one of the greatest comebacks in event history, the Ascenders stormed back with a 17-1 run to begin the fourth to knot things at 64-64 midway through the final quarter.
From there, the two teams traded punches like heavyweight fighters down the stretch. A Cade Cunningham
bucket with one minute left gave Montverde Academy a 73-71 lead, before the Ascenders cut the lead to 74-73 on a free throw from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
with 36.7 seconds remaining.
With a 6.7 second differential between the shot clock and game clock, IMG Academy decided to play out the defensive possession down just one point. A contested missed by Moses Moody
with 10 seconds remaining allowed the Ascenders to run and a deep outlet from UNC signee Armando Bacot Jr.
to Robinson-Earl for the game-winning flush over Harlond Beverly
with five seconds remaining.
The defending event champions jumped all over IMG Academy early, starting the game with an 8-0 lead, before opening up a 25-7 advantage at the end of the first period of play. The Ascenders responded strong from an ugly first half that saw them turn the ball over 11 times and shoot just 7-of-24 from the field. They shot 16-of-25 from the field in the second half of play and were forced into just three turnovers.
, the 5-star junior guard, had another monster outing for IMG Academy, finishing with an efficient 26 points on 7-of-12 from the field and 12-of-12 from the line. Robinson-Earl, a Villanova signee, had a strong performance for the Ascenders finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds and the game-winning slam.
Beverly (23 points, three steals) and Cunningham (21 points, nine rebounds) were dominant for the defending GEICO Nationals champions in the tough loss.
The Warriors had three opportunities (six if you include missed tip-ins) to
tie things up in the game's final 20 seconds. Kofi Cockburn
missed a contested layup with 16 seconds left and the tip was off the mark, but Oak Hill retained possession on a tie-up. The Warriors then missed a floater and two more tips, but managed to maintain possession down one with 3.5 seconds left.
Oak Hill Academy's final chance saw a wide-open look from Cam Thomas
rim in-and-out to seal La Lumiere's victory.
For the Lakers, Friday’s semifinal victory
marked the second narrow escape in as many days as the undefeated squad
was again far from their best in the win.
La Lumiere turned the ball
over 10 times compared to just one turnover for the Warriors, but used a
stifling half-court defense to limit the high-scoring Warriors offense
that averages over 90 points per contest on the season to just 57 points
on just 35.8 percent shooting.
The Lakers again were led by their
dominant frontcourt tandem of Washington commit Isaiah Stewart
, who finished
with 14 points and 17 rebounds, and Kentucky commit Keion Brooks
with a team-high 20 points to go with six boards. The top
seed was also able to limit Oak Hill's Cole Anthony
, holding the unsigned senior to 11 points, eight assists and four
rebounds on 4-of-16 shooting from the field.
national champion will be crowned when No. 2 La Lumiere (30-0) faces No.
3 IMG Academy (30-1) at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN. The Lakers are in
search of their second event championship in three years after beating Montverde Academy 70-52 in 2017. The Ascenders are playing in their first Geico Nationals
championship game after picking up their first two event victories at this year's tournament.