Toasting the IMG crowd, many of whom traveled up to Queens from Florida where the school is based, Farrakhan’s teammates gathered around the gritty guard, pointing each of their right index fingers in the air signaling what they’ve just earned: the right to call themselves the best in the country.
About two hours earlier, New Hope’s (Maryland) girls basketball team exuded their joy by dancing across half-court as the sound of “Win” by California-based hip-hop artist Jay Rock blasted over the speakers.
“Everybody talked about our talent, but these guys really love each other and that’s the way it was when we started school in August,” said IMG coach Sean McAloon after the victory.
In IMG’s 65-55 victory over 2017 champion La Lumiere of Indiana, Arizona-bound Josh Green led the way with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including a handful of breakaway, one-handed dunks, all of which earned him MVP honors.
Villanova-commit and fellow senior Jeremiah Robinson-Earl finished a big afternoon with 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while shooting 70 percent from the field and 67 percent from three.
North Carolina signee and 6-foot-10 senior center Armando Bacot, who added six points and eight rebounds, says the win is an identity changer for IMG.
“IMG is known as a football school, but now were are a basketball school that has won the national championship,” he said. “Today we never gave up.”
For New Hope, who defeated St. John’s College High School of Washington, D.C., 45-34, in the final, it was a defensive-minded display, holding their opponents to 30.8 percent shooting and only 15.4 percent from three.
Head coach Sam Caldwell discussed the level of dedication it took for New Hope to establish themselves as best in the nation.
“From the first day of workouts in August, our players and coaches have made great sacrifices to reach this point,” he said. “We won because our school gave us tremendous support and the kids bought into our philosophy."
New Hope was led by the efforts of Jada Walker, who had nine points, five rebounds and four assists on her way to Tournament MVP honors. The sophomore had 14 points in the team’s semifinal 60-52 win over previous national number-one Miami Country Day on Friday morning.
Delicia Patrick paced the New Hope offense with a team-high 13 points in the championship game.