MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. – The last time IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) played in the GEICO High School Nationals the Ascenders were on the wrong end of a 19-point stunner to Greensboro (N.C.) Day School. On Thursday, they brought an intent level of focus to roll past Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) 65-50 in the opening round of the GEICO Nationals.
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Jaden Springer led the Ascenders with 26 points, Noah Farrakhan added 19 points in the win. Grant Sherfield led the Buffaloes with 13 points.
“Everything that we’ve read coming up to this was about that loss, but none of us were here,” IMG Academy coach Sean McAloon said. “Nothing about the players that are here now or anything, so, yeah, we used that, and we’ll continue to use that.”
The Ascenders took a 15-13 lead after the first quarter on a three-point runner by Springer to beat the buzzer. They built on that with a 9-2 run to open the second quarter and led 31-23 at the half.
Frustrated that the Ascenders weren’t leading by more, Springer didn’t take kindly to Farrakhan wearing a smile when he walked into the locker room.
“We argued a little, but it was good,” Springer said. “We’re like best friends off the court so that’s just how we are.”
The Ascenders forced eight turnovers in the second half to extend its lead by as many as 19.
The Ascenders will face the Montverde Academy (Fla.) – University School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) winner Friday at 3 p.m. (ESPN2).
“We’re just focused on the next game,” Farrakhan said. “We would be the first team at IMG to win this so that’s the only thing that we’re thinking about.”
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