By Pat Leonard
For the Inquirer
Imhotep Charter is one win away from repeating as Public League champions after defeating Math, Civics & Sciences, 66-52, in Sunday's semifinal at Southern.
The Panthers (20-5), the reigning PIAA Class AA state champions who won their second straight Class AA league title on the same floor Saturday, relied on a pair of juniors to overwhelm the Class A champion Mighty Elephants.
Imhotep Charter 6-foot-5 forward Ameen Tanksley scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, scoring 11 of the Panthers’ 14 second quarter points. Combination guard David Appolon added 15 points and nine rebounds.
The Panthers will face Class AAAA champ Bartram in the Public League championship at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Temple’s Liacouras Center. They will also face Catholic League Class AA champ West Catholic for the District 12 title, tentatively scheduled for Saturday at Southern with a time to be determined.
“Our goals are the same every year, to win championships,” said Panthers coach Andre Noble. “We’re fortunate to be in the game on Tuesday, and we’re not looking beyond that. You can’t win all those championships at one time. You’ve got to win them one game at a time.”
Imhotep Charter has now won 20 games in each of the past five seasons, said Noble, who is in his ninth year as head coach of the Panthers, who are in their sixth Public League season.
With MCS up 17-16 early in Sunday’s semifinal, Appolon and MCS junior guard Nigel Caldwell received double technical fouls after a loose ball scrum.
“My teammate Dave got into a situation and almost got kicked out, so I had to take over,” said Tanksley, who finished 10-of-17 from the field and often challenged defenders one-on-one. Tanksley said he has received Division I interest from schools in the Big East and Atlantic 10 conferences.
“I go into every game like nobody can guard me,” the junior said.
Math, Civics & Sciences went scoreless from the 3:58 mark of the second quarter until 6:15 remained in the third, a 9-0 Panthers’ scoring run that included a 22-17 halftime lead for Imhotep.
The Panthers opened the second half on an 8-2 run, and Appolon scored 11 of his points in the third quarter after going scoreless in the first half.
“I had to relax myself at halftime,” Appolon said “The game was coming too fast.”
Imhotep Charter led by as many as 17 points, 50-33, with just under six minutes to go in the game.
Appolon made 5-of-11 field goals and 5-of-5 free throws and recorded three steals.
Erik Copes, a 6-8 forward and George Washington recruit, had five points and six rebounds and suffered a slight cut under his right eye but was attended to by trainers and returned. Junior guard Tyhiem Perrin (seven points, seven rebounds) had his left wrist taped but also returned and helped the Panthers on the boards.
For Math, Civics & Sciences, senior guard Kwahmere Gredic weaved in and out of defenders with quick, low dribbling and led his team with 15 points but 11 came in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided.
Junior guard Chris Stokes added ten points for the Mighty Elephants.
Since there are no Class A teams in the Catholic League, Math, Civics & Sciences automatically wins the District 12 championship at that level and will be its No. 1 seed in the state tournament.
1 2 3 4 F
Imhotep Charter 8 14 19 25 66
Math, Civics & Sci. 8 9 11 24 52
IC: David Appolon 15, Earl Brown 7, Erik Copes 5, Tyhiem Perrin 7, Ameen Tanksley 26, Terrell Johnson 6.
MC&S: Muhammad Amin 1, Nigel Caldwell 2, Quentin Davis 6, Kwahmere Gredic 15, Thomas Moore 6, Tyreek Riddick 2, Chris Stokes 10, Andre Thomas 5, Jeremiah Worthem 5.