A courageous effort throughout by an undermanned and undersized squad from District 3’s Mid Penn Conference surprised everyone at the spacious Geigle Center in Reading, PA as the crowd was treated to a thriller of a game which served as a state quarter final in the 4A classification of the year end PIAA tournament.
The Imhotep Panthers of District 12 and Philadelphia’s Public League may have looked beyond their smaller and much less heralded opponents, the Middletown Blue Raiders, coming into this game ranked as high as #8 in the nation among tens of thousands of schools. The Blue Raiders on the other hand were ranked about 1,734th at last check on “Max Preps”.
Nevertheless, this feisty squad of over achievers who have played together since their first days of basketball in the well known “Summer Slam” organized by PIAA Official Larry Kapenstein every year in Middletown would hear none of the banter. They played nose to nose with the Panthers, a legendary charter school program led by the only coach the school has ever known, Andre Noble. Imhotep has won 5 PIAA State championships during his tenure in recent years.
The Blue Raiders were able to go into halftime down just 10 points after a spirited comeback from the first quarter where it looked like Imhotep would run away with this game, and then got as close as 5 in the 3rd quarter with 2:05 remaining. Featured were lots of physical, aggressive play but the more fundamentally sound team overall appeared to be the boys from Central PA, not the highly ranked Philly team. Many turnovers (19 by Tep) and close to 50 fouls were recorded in total, but in the end the Panthers were able to pull out a victory 79-60 hitting most of their free throws in the 4th ¼ after turning to slicing and dicing penetrations.
Senior Ryan Hughes of M-Town, the second highest career scorer in the history of the school, led the effort with 19 points and his all around solid play. He’s headed to Ursinus where he should make some noise next year. Chris Plummer came in and played face up defense on the very talented Danta Scott, a 6’7” junior for the Panthers. Scott finished with game high 21 points, however. Nice contributions were made by all members of the Blue Raider rotation including Tyler Petrowski, Tre Leach, Kyle Truesdale, Dahmir Johnson and Brady Fox.
Head Coach Chris Sattele prepared his players and got the most out of each possible in this exciting contest. Sattele is originally from Philadelphia and knows the tough, athletic style of ball played there.
On the other side though, Coach Noble could not have been happy with the performance of his mostly underclassmen…Elijah Taylor, Donta Scott, Shamir Bishop and Chereef Knox are all juniors and will be back next when they are expected to again provide the tools for Imhotep to excel.
The Panthers escaped this one, and need to put on a better performance if they are to take down their next opponent in the 4A semi final, Bethlehem Catholic which crushed their counterparts Berks Catholic in their ¼ final. Waiting in the wings will be a tough WPIAL team, to be determined, in the final. The season is over for Middletown, but they played Imhotep as well as any team this year and have nothing to be ashamed of after a fine season. Bottom line in this game was just “too much Tep”.