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Battle of the FL greats: IMG Academy vs Montverde Academy set for day five

Collin Atwood

A game-winning bucket decided the fate of the latest matchup between the then-top-ranked IMG Academy Ascenders and the Eagles of Montverde Academy on Dec. 3, 2021. It was IMG’s Keyonte George who nailed the buzzer-beater to take down the Eagles, 65-64. 

Every matchup between these two Florida based schools draws eyes from all around the country. 

On Monday, Jan. 17, the spotlight will shine on them once again when they face off at the 2022 Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay.

The two teams feature some of the nation’s highest-ranked high school prospects. The Ascenders have six players ranked in the top 50 of ESPN’s Class of 2022 prospect list. The Eagles have six players ranked in the top 25 of that same list.

The top players for IMG are George (No. 3), Jaden Bradley (No. 8) and Jarace Walker (No. 19). These young stars have led IMG to victories over top-ranked teams this year like Oak Hill and Wasatch Academy. They are currently sitting at a record of 12-2.

Besides their last win against the Eagles, IMG has not had the best of luck when it comes to playing Montverde in the past. 

On Dec. 23, 2019 Montverde beat IMG 63-55 in the City of Palms Classic Championship. Just a few months later, the Eagles were the victors over IMG again in a more convincing fashion, winning 67-46 at the St. James Invitational.

Each team is looking to increase their win streak to five in this star-studded matchup. Although both teams are headed north to Springfield College, the home court advantage might as well go to Montverde since they have already suited up for a game at this year’s Hoophall Classic.

The Eagles played DeMatha Catholic on Saturday and beat them 86-65. That win improved their record to 15-3 on the season. The team is led by a number of highly ranked prospects: Dariq Whitehead (No. 5), Vincent Iwuchukwu (No. 11), Skyy Clark (No. 16), Dillon Mitchell (No. 18), Malik Reneau (No. 23) and Jalen Hood-Schifino (No. 24).

A notable matchup for this game is the one between the coaches. IMG’s head coach is Sean McAloon, who has headed the team since 2017. The head coach for the Eagles is Kevin Boyle; he’s been at Montverde since 2011 and is recognized as one of the best minds in high school basketball in the country.

Although McAloon has been with his team for much less time than Boyle has been with the Eagles, his coaching experience prior to coming to IMG is impressive. 

McAloon has earned over 300 wins in his 17 years coaching, along with six Coach of the Year awards. He also helped St. John’s College High School win their first championship in 16 years when he coached them from 2012-2017. 

For Boyle, he spent time at St. Patrick High School before coming to Montverde and brought them 27 different championship titles — but the winning didn’t stop there. During his time at Montverde, he has led them to five GEICO National Championship titles and five City of Palms Classic titles. 

His will to win and ability to coach the nation’s greatest hoopers got him named as Max Preps’ Coach of the Decade (2010-20). 

These great basketball brains faced off at the 2020 Spalding Hoophall Classic and IMG fell to the Eagles 76-64. On Monday, we’ll see which team is able to come out on top when they tip off at 3 p.m. in Blake Arena.

Photo: Joe Arruda/The Student

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