KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A sold-out crowd stood up and sang "Rocky Top" as they prepared for tip-off at a basketball game. They weren't at Thompson-Boling Arena, however. This crowd filled the gym at Knoxville Catholic High School to capacity to witness the Irish battle 12th ranked IMG Academy from Florida.
The standing ovation and singing of "Rocky Top" was aimed at IMG Academy guard and Tennessee commit Jaden Springer. Although most of the crowd cheered for Catholic to win the game, they were excited to get an in-person preview of a future Vol.
"I wasn't expecting that. It was great," Springer said about the standing ovation.
The Irish did not back down from the challenge of hosting the nation's 12th best high school basketball team. They only trailed IMG Academy by two at the end of the first quarter.
Catholic trailed at halftime, 35-23. They used a 20-8 run to tie the game at 43, capped off by sophomore Brian Edwards' three-pointer.
IMG Academy pulled away in the fourth, outscoring the Irish 24-8 to win the game 71-53.
Springer finished the game with 13 points and nine rebounds,
"I know almost all [of those] guys. I played AAU [basketball] with them," Springer said about the Catholic players.
The Irish take on Meigs County on Monday.