- Johnny Esfeller
IMG Academy Women's basketball crowned Florida Hoops Challenge champs in Orlando
The IMG Academy Women’s Basketball program improved to 10-0 in the fall after winning the Florida Hoops Challenge, held at Dr. Phillips in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 13-14. The event featured 14 of the top programs in the southeast battling it out in a round robin format. With a 2-0 record and a 13.5 point average margin of victory, IMG Academy won the title handily.
Most impressive was the 65-47 dismantling of the three time defending state champion Dr. Phillips Panthers on Saturday. The Panthers had also won two of the last three ESPN High School Invitationals (2011 and 2013, runner-up in 2012) and had not lost a home game in more than three seasons. Against the Panthers, PG Kavita Akula (Junior/Chattisgarh, India) led the way with 19 points, with all but one of those points coming from three-point range. Akula had the hot hand, draining six of her seven three-point attempts against Dr. Phillips, and completed the weekend with a staggering 10-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc. Other standouts against Dr. Phillips included identical twins Khaleann and Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau (Seniors/Quebec, Canada). Khaleann contributed 24 points while going four-for-four on three point attempts, and Audrey-Ann dominated in the paint, recording six rebounds and six blocks.
A day earlier, the Ascenders bested Colonial HS of Orlando, Fla. 66-57. Khaleann Caron-Goudreau put up 17 points, and was joined by Camilia Tapias (Senior/Bogota, Colombia) who added 13 points and four steals. Abigail Tinsley (Senior/Charlottesville, N.C.) also helped key the win with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Another standout through the weekend was the sixth woman off the bench, La-Torae Nixon (Soph./Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands). Nixon, playing through injuries, has been a key role player throughout the season and was a critical asset in Orlando. Nixon combined for 16 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, providing quality minutes when she was on the floor.
For Head Coach Shell Dailey, she is only 15 wins shy of reaching 150 wins as the IMG Academy head coach. The Florida Hoops Challenge marked wins No. 134 and 135 in her six years leading the program (135-52 overall).