In a dimly lit gym on January 9, 2018, the Panthers of Imhotep, 9-2 going into this game (a nationally ranked team), fought off an erratic effort to take an early season Public League game from a somewhat tepid performance by the Pumas of Mastery Charter North at their Pickett campus.
The Pumas were undefeated, going in at 9-0, and looking to make a statement against their more well known and accomplished opponents. They started very slowly, however, and could not get any traction in the first half, missing eight of 11 free throws with numerous turnovers. In general, they seemed overwhelmed with the challenge.
The Panthers have already faced off against two major national powers, losing both to DeMatha (No. 5) and La Lumiere (No. 12) in the national polls. They feature a number of players who have a similar physique and game. Probably the best of whom, 6’7” junior Donta Scott, sat out the entire game because of a disciplinary issue with AD and head coach Andre Noble, who has an unwavering set of rules in that regard. Noble doesn’t care who you are or what you have accomplished if you break the rules. It’s the right thing to do, and will help the player in the long run.
Stepping up for Imhotep to see his first significant action of the year was football player (tight end and D Lineman) Marquise Greenwood, a transfer from Norristown. Greenwood doesn’t fit the 6’7” 190 standard for the Panthers, coming in at 6’5” and about 245 lbs. He did some significant banging on the boards during this contest.
Chereef Knox, a 6’6” junior, played well for Imhotep even though he was sporting a “broken nose” mask and fouled out in the third quarter with 1:20 remaining.
Mastery Charter North was rushing their offense in the first and second quarters, and this resulted in a 15-10 and 33-15 score at the end of each frame in favor of the visitors. Imhotep moved the ball well, but it was sloppy on both ends of the court, with lots of fouls (both teams in the double bonus in the middle of the second), missed free throws and turnovers.
This was not a well played game by either squad. The second half yielded 24 more fouls. Free throw shooting was poor, with Mastery Charter North scoring 16-26 and Imhotep scoring 12-21. The Panthers had 21 turnovers and the Pumas shot just 4-20 on treys, which they seemed to be relying on to carry them.
There was some very impressive athletic play from two Pumas in particular, Tahj Campbell and Lakeem McAilely. It should be interesting to see how these two develop during the 2018 part of the season.
The final score was 61-54, Imhotep. Leading the way for the Panthers was Bernard Lightsey with 13, and some needed treys late in the game, the 6’8” Elijah Taylor, who had 10, and guard Fatayn Wesley with nine. Jamir Reed and Lakeem McAilely both chipped in with 14 for the Pumas, while Tahj Campbell had eight.