Our guess is Imani is a different team than the one that was expected to play in this year’s MAIT. They only have one player taller than 6’5 and suffered a severely lopsided loss to the host Eagles in the opening round. The Rock gave Orlando Oak Ridge a more competitive game last night. Hopefully, this game will be somewhat competitive.
The Rock got off to a great start with back-to-back three pointers from 6’9 senior and Virginia Tech signee R.J. Jones. Imani Christian got on the board with a floater from 5’10 junior Nate Brazil. Jones scored inside for the Rock but that was countered with a bucket from 6’3 junior Tristen Brown. After an exchange of baskets, Jones hit another three to put The Rock up 13-6 with 5:08 to play in the period. At that point, The Rock ran dry and Imani took advantage. The Saints finished out the first period with a 5-0 run to trail by just two, 13-11.
The second quarter was all The Rock. The Lions had separate runs of 5-0 to start the period and 13-2 at the end of the quarter to roll into the half up 37-17. Jones continued to play well, this time scoring inside and totaling 20 points in the half. Evan Sterck, a 6’2 junior, came alive with back-to-back threes for The Rock during its end of quarter run.
Things went from bad to worse for Imani in the third quarter. The Rock hit 8 three-point shots in the period, four of those by 6’5 sophomore Joseph Hartman, to take a commanding 68-35 lead into the final period.
As you might expect, the fourth quarter was anti-climactic. The highlight was a dunk and one by Jones. Imani made a run late in the period after The Rock subbed in their bench. That made the score a “more respectable” 77-52 win for the Lions.
Jones led The Rock with 27 points, going 10-14 overall and 3-6 from deep. Hartman added 19 points, including 5-7 from beyond the arc. Sterck added 17 points, hitting 4-7 from three-point land.
For Imani, Brazil led the way with 23 points.