Andre Noble's Panthers Crushed the MLK Cougars in the Philadelphia Public League Championship
Under the only head coach they have ever known, Andre Noble, the Imhotep Panthers have always been known for their suffocating defense, their extreme athleticism and growing stronger as a team as the season progresses just in time for the big games.
It all came together for them on the big stage Sunday, February 25 at the vaunted cathedral of basketball: the Palestra. Their opponents were the Martin Luther King Cougars, and in a repeat of last year’s overtime thriller, they would face off again for the ultimate prize in Philly Pub boys’ basketball.
Sean Colson, the fine head coach of King, is a good friend and admires the accomplishments of Noble. Although this contest belonged to Imhotep, he continues to assert that the Panthers are a credible and quality foe for the big games.
This one proved different from last year. As the first half progressed, it became apparent that the Panthers had brought their A game in the form of their “D” game.
The Cougars of MLK were only able to score 18 points in that half, followed by 19 in the second as ‘Tep pulled away with a victory.
Imhotep, ranked No. 13 in the nation in the USA Today poll and climbing recently, pretty much crushed MLK, 66-37, to win the school’s seventh boys’ Public League basketball championship, and their second in a row over the Cougars.
In 101 years of Public League boys’ basketball, only coach Warren Weiler, who split his time in the early years of the original eight members between West Philly and Overbrook, exceeds Andre Noble in Pub Championships. Weiler had eight, and next year will give Noble the opportunity to garner his eighth for a tie. The accolades continue to pile up for the Panthers head man who also serves as the athletic director and disciplinarian at the school.
The Cougars had 17 turnovers through three quarters and finished with 21. Senior guard Bernard Lightsey of Imhotep was the game’s MVP for his solid all-around play along with 12 points, including 7-of-8 at the foul line.
For Imhotep, underclassmen Donta Scott had 10, Jamil Riggins had nine and Chereef Knox had eight.
Excellent point guard Denelle Holly Jr. of MLK was not himself because of the constant full-court pressure defense put on by the very active Panthers. Senior big man William McNair Jr. led King with seven points and six rebounds, but was not the factor he has been recently.
Imhotep will play a 4A city championship against the Catholic League representative, and then will move on to the tough state competition where they have been successful before. Quaker Valley of the District 7 WPIAL appears to be the opponent most likely that could face off against this very tough and improving squad of Panthers.