IMHOTEP CHARTER 67, ROBERTS VAUX 66
For what Imhotep Charter coach Andre Noble called "some bad practice efforts," Abraham Massaley recently lost his starting position.
"I'm not used to coming off the bench," the senior guard said. "But at this point of the season, you have to put your ego aside and just play hard."
Sunday at Temple's Liacouras Center, it was Massaley's late basket that lifted the Panthers to a 67-66 triumph over Rysheed Jordan and never-say-die Roberts Vaux in a thrilling Public League final. His deciding field goal, on a left-side drive, came with 12 seconds to play.
"I was supposed to come off a high screen, " the 5-foot-11, 160-pounder said. "But I saw that my defender was overplaying me. To me, that was a green light to drive on him. That's what I did."
In overcoming a 45-point performance by Jordan, Imhotep claimed its fourth Public League crown in five seasons. The Panthers also avenged last month's 73-51 drubbing against the Cougars.
"We wanted to get back at them after that," Imhotep's Brandon Austin said. "It didn't sit too well with us. We were happy about getting another crack at them."
Austin, a 6-6 senior guard and Providence commit, totaled 23 points, six rebounds, and five steals. He fouled out with 49 seconds to go and the Panthers clinging to a 64-63 lead.
"It was tough not being in there," said Austin, who was selected as the game's most valuable player. "But I trusted my teammates. I knew they could pull it out."
With 33 seconds remaining, Massaley made the first of two free throws to put Imhotep in front, 65-64. Jordan, sinking both of his freebies, gave Vaux a 66-65 advantage with 27 seconds left. That set the stage for Massaley's winner.
"Without Brandon in there, we had to stay level-headed," Massaley said. "Somebody else had to step up and make a play. That's what I did."
Jordan, going up against a box-and-one scheme most of the way, shot 10 for 21 from the field (4 for 8 from beyond the arc) and 21 for 23 from the line. He added six boards and five steals.
"It was a heck of a performance," said Massaley, who scored six of his seven points in the fourth quarter. "I tip my hat to him. The way he leads his team, it's incredible."
Imhotep (23-4) was aided by Deryl Bagwell's 15 points, including four threes, and Basil Thompson's eight boards. The Panthers survived despite 11 second-half turnovers. "We were a little shaky with the basketball," Noble said.
Down by 54-43 at the end of the third quarter, Vaux (19-8) climbed back in with a 10-1 burst, including Lester Mattox's three-point play, at the start of the fourth.
Imhotep Charter 17 19 18 13-67
Roberts Vaux 19 10 14 23-66
IC: Brandon Austin 23, Basil Thompson 9, Deryl Bagwell 15, Jakwan Jones 2, Abraham Massaley 7, Jalil Myers 3, Dymir Logan 6, Nigel Grant 2,
V: Rysheed Jordan 45, Amir Butler 4, Trayvond Massenberg 2, Lester Mattox 5, Sammy Foreman 2, Daron Johnson 4, Khalief Tinley 2, Keith Fletcher 2.