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Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational 2023 (part 1): IMG Academy takes She Got Game Bracket

By Bob Corwin, 01/04/24, 2:30PM PST


IMG Academy, champions of the She Got Game Bracket of the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational (PC: Johnny with 941Visuals)

In its 8th year, the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational was once again held with Wiregrass Ranch Sports Complex in Wesley Chapel (just north of Tampa), Florida, the primarily site along with a few area high schools.  The event ran from December 27 through 30 with essentially an off day for the girls on the 28th when the boys’ event took over the building.  All told, 144 girls’ teams and 52 boys’ teams participated in the event run by ENG Sports with Florida Sports Coast the presenting sponsor.  

In this article (part 1 of 3), the She Got Game Bracket will be discussed.  In part 2, the focus will be on the ENG Bracket and in part 3, the Siesta Key Bracket.  In each case, the event final and MVP selectees will be discussed and the all-tournament team for the bracket listed.  

She Got Game Bracket Final: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) 72-61 Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Florida)

This was a matchup of two teams receiving national ranking (IMG higher).  Lake Highland came in down its point guard.  Still, they shot the ball well enough to take a 19-14 lead into quarter 2 where the IMG post game took over (12 points) and the lead at half swung to IMG (34-28).  After an initial Lake Highland three, IMG went on a 9-0 run which essentially (43-31) ended the contest with the final margin a similar 11.  IMG size and depth were critical factors as the lead never really felt threatened in the 4th quarter.  IMG was led by all-tournament selectee Leah Harmon [University of Miami signee] with 20 points and Event MVP Tajianna Roberts [Louisville signee] with 16 points.  Lake Highland was led by Bracket MVP Camila De Pool [Fordham signee] with 20 points and all-tournament selectee Bri Rivera [Austin Peay signee] with 14 points.

Interestingly, IMG had to go to overtime in its semifinal 65-63 win over Nazareth Academy where Harmon scored the final basket on a baseline drive as time was about to expire. Sometimes a winning team's toughest game is not the final.  Naz (as they are sometimes referred to back in Illinois) is on average bigger than Lake Highland (more athletic with smaller quality shooters) and ran more structured offense which IMG countered by speeding up the game where Naz felt less comfortable.     

IMG Coach Frank Oliver on [entire] Event MVP Tajianna Roberts:

"Tajianna Roberts' relentless commitment to excellence on both ends of the court sets her apart as a true dual threat. She's one of the most complete guards I've been blessed to work with. She has an outstanding work ethic and a competitive motor to match. She's gives us an opportunity to be competitive every night."

Lake Highland Prep Coach Al Honor on She Got Game Bracket MVP Camila De Pool:

“Camila De Pool is one of the elite defenders in the country.  With her team playing without their starting point guard, she stepped up her game with 20 points, 4 assists and 0 turnovers losing in the championship to a good IMG squad.”

She Got Game Bracket All-tournament Team

Camila De Pool, 5-7, guard, 2024, Lake Highland Prep (FL) Bracket MVP

Leah Harmon, 5-6, point guard, 2024, IMG Academy (FL)

Jordan Lee, 6-0, forward, 2024, St. Mary’s Stockton (CA)

Ivanna Manyacka, 6-0, forward, 2027, Bullis School (MD)

Kayla Nelms, 6-2, forward, 2024, Miami Country Day School (FL)

Bri Rivera, 5-7, guard, 2024, Lake Highland Prep (FL)

Tajianna Roberts, 5-10, guard, 2024, IMG Academy (FL) Event MVP

Stella Sakalas, 5-11, wing, 2026, Nazareth Academy (IL)

Persais Williams, 5-7, guard, 2024, Bolingbrook High School (IL)

Tajianna Roberts of IMG Academy, MVP of the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational (PC: Johnny with 941Visuals)

Camila De Pool of Lake Highland Prep, MVP of the She Got Game Bracket of the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational (PC: Johnny with 941Visuals)