MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. – Just after coming back from 16 points down in the fourth quarter and knocking off No. 3 Montverde (Fla.) Academy in the GEICO High School Nationals semifinals on Friday, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) coach Sean McAloon said he’d “never been a part of a game like this.”
McAloon and the No. 4 Ascenders experienced another first on Saturday, knocking off No. 1 La Lumiere School (La Porte, Ind.) 66-55 to claim the national title.
It’s the first national title in any sport in the school’s history and was also La Lumiere’s first loss of the season.
Josh Green led the Ascenders with 19 points, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who was named tournament MVP, had 18 points and Jaden Springer posted 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Keion Brooks led La Lumiere with 15 points and Isaiah Stewart added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Lakers.
“It’s just special, I’m just happy for these guys they were really hard and they got it done,” McAloon said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Robinson-Earl had the hot hand early, draining two threes in the first four minutes to ignite an 11-4 run. Green scored 13 first half points, but Gerald Drumgoole drained a corner three-pointer cut into the Ascenders 31-26 lead at halftime.
Drumgoole drained another three with 3:22 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 39-36, but the Ascenders countered with a 9-5 run capped off by Jarace Walker’s three-pointer to take a 48-41 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
The Ascenders extended their lead, 61-51, on run-out dunks in transition capped off by Springer’s transition layup with 1:23 left in regulation.
“We had to limit their offensive rebounding and we had to stay in as a group,” McAloon said. “We’ve always felt that we were the fastest team in the country and we were able to get out and finish plays.”
Robinson-Earl said the historical impact was the most “amazing” part of the win with so many quality programs at the school. IMG’s football team finished No. 5 overall in the Super 25 this past season its baseball team is currently ranked No. 1 overall.
“We’re the first team to win a national championship, that’s crazy,” Robinson-Earl said. “With all of the great sports that we have here to be the first to win a national title is special for all of us.”
The final Super 25 boys basketball rankings will be released on Monday.
“We knew that we were better than all of these teams in the field,” IMG forward Armando Bacot said. “I’m just glad that we could go out there and prove it.”
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