Two national powerhouses go at it in this contest. Both are members of the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (NIBC) and IMG defeated Oak Hill in their first meeting. This time around, the stakes are a spot in the City of Palms Classic final.
Jaden Bradley of IMG got things kicked off right away with a drive and score fifteen seconds in. Christian Reeves of Oak Hill responded with a pair of free throws. Eric Daily of IMG connected on a drive but a three from Caleb Foster of Oak Hill gave the Warriors a one point advantage. Chris Livingston of Oak Hill knocked down a three coming off a ball screen but then IMG went on a run. They outscored Oak Hill 12-0, taking a 19-8 lead with 4:10 left in the first period and forcing an Oak Hill timeout. The Warriors got themselves together and after trading baskets with IMG, scored seven unanswered to get within four, 21-17 with 1:28 to go. IMG was unfazed and scored the final four points of the period, taking an eight point lead, 25-17.
Oak Hill erased that deficit and tied the score at 27-27 in less than two minutes of the second period. Jarace Walker of IMG scored on a drive but Oak Hill took the lead after a driving score from Judah Mintz and a bucket inside from Reeves. Jacoi Hutchinson tied the game for IMG at 31-31 with a drive with three minutes left in the half. Oak Hill then scored four unanswered but a three from Noah Batchelor got IMG to within one, 35-34, at the half.
The third quarter was high-level basketball, something we’ve come to expect at the City of Palms. The lead went back and forth the entire period. In all there were nine lead changes and two ties. IMG had its largest lead of the quarter at 56-50 after a pair of free throws from Bradley with 1:10 left in the period. However, Mintz of Oak Hill finished the quarter on a personal 8-0 run to give the lead back to Oak Hill heading into the final period, 58-56.
In the final period, neither team could gain separation by more than three points. With just over two minutes to play, Dailey of IMG converted one of two free throws to tie the game at 70-70. Livingston of Oak Hill put the Warriors back on top with a stick back. After a pair of missed threes by IMG sandwiched around an Oak Hill turnover, Mintz scored on a drive to give Oak Hill a two possession lead with thirteen seconds to play. Bradley of IMG cut it to two with a drive and score at the rim but only five seconds remained in the game. IMG was forced to foul and Tybo Bailey came through, connecting on two free throws to put the margin back to four. IMG would get no closer and the Warriors of Oak Hill advanced to the title game with an exciting 76-72 win.
Livingston led Oak Hill with 22 points while Mintz finished with 19 points.
For IMG, Keyonte George drained a game-high 28 points while Walker finished with 12 points.