On Tuesday February 20, the highly ranked (13th nationally according to USA Today) Imhotep Panthers faced off against the Pumas of Mastery Charter North, an up-and-coming program. This game served as a Public League semifinal, and was played at South Philly High. The Panthers are the many times Pub and State champions, and are part of what is becoming a bit of a legendary story.
Andre Noble, the head coach of Imhotep, consistently gets his players ready for the big games at the end of the season, and they have been in many over the years. This year’s squad is on the young side and consists of mostly juniors carrying the load, including D1 prospects 6’7” Donta Scott and 6’6” Chereef Knox.
The Pumas refused to go away easily in this contest, playing a spirited game until very late when the Panthers pulled away. The final score was 54-46, but it was close throughout the first three quarters and even into the last frame, with ‘Tep hanging on to a 1-point lead with four minutes remaining.
The Panthers move on to take on Martin Luther King (winner over Constitution later in the night) in a rematch of last year’s game, which went to overtime with Imhotep prevailing. The Panthers are currently 18-2 overall, and the Pumas’ season ends at 17-6, a very respectable year with a good future. Tahj-Malik Campbell and Jamir Reed both had strong games with 13 and 19 respectively. For Imhotep, the leading scorers were Dahmir Bishop with 13, Chereef Knox with 11 and Jamil Riggins with 11.
The game was not really well played in regard to shooting percentages (‘Tep and MCN both at 29 percent), and there were several long discussions at the scoring table which seemed to upset the flow.
Imhotep is looking forward to Sunday’s final with the Martin Luther King Cougars to show the rest of the 4A members of the PIAA what they have to look forward to when they face the Panthers starting next week. It should be interesting to see if they can hold the Cougars to under 40 points, which is the goal coach Noble has set.