IMHOTEP CHARTER 54, ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 47
HERSHEY, Pa. - Last season, Imhotep Charter's basketball team claimed its third PIAA Class AA championship.
This year, in making the move up to Class AAA, the Panthers proved equal to the challenge. More than equal, actually.
In an all-District 12 final, Andre Noble's squad, spurred by 25 points from senior catalyst Brandon Austin and solid interior play, downed Archbishop Carroll, 54-45, Friday night at the Giant Center.
"We felt a couple of times that we were the best team in the state, regardless of the class we were in," Noble said.
The Panthers, who committed only two turnovers, had five players with five or more rebounds, led by Austin's eight. "When we don't turn the ball over, with our size, we're pretty tough to beat," Noble said.
The 6-foot-7 Austin, a Providence commit who captured his third gold medal, netted 11 of his points in the second quarter. He finished with three assists, two blocks, and one steal.
"Brandon's length causes problems," Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk said. "He's probably got a seven-foot wing span. He's such a talented kid."
Austin, who has been slowed recently by a knee injury, shot 9 for 15 from the field (1 for 3 from beyond the arc) and 6 for 6 from the line. Four of his caroms came on the offensive end.
Said Noble: "He just understands basketball. He's another coach for us. He has a really bright mind for this game."
Abraham Massaley, a senior guard, aided Imhotep (28-5) with nine points and five boards. The Panthers' depth gradually wore down a six-man Carroll rotation.
The Patriots, who had nine giveaways, shot just 2 for 19 (10.5 percent) from three-point territory. Overall, they were 17 for 56 (30.4).
Down by 30-28 in the third quarter, Imhotep put together a 10-2 run to seize command. It began with Nigel Grant's dunk, off a feed from Austin, and was capped by Austin's pull-up jumper.
"His knee has definitely been bothering him," Noble said. "It's been that way for about two weeks. But Brandon Austin at 80 percent is better than no Brandon Austin at all."
Sophomore forwards Derrick Jones (11 rebounds, three blocks) and Ernest Aflakpui (12 boards) sparked Carroll (23-7) with 13 points apiece.
The Patriots' Yoseb Yacob, a Binghamton commit, closed his career with 10 points and four assists.
Archbishop Carroll 13 13 9 10-45
Imhotep Charter 8 18 14 14-54
AC: Yosef Yacob 10, Nick Jones 4, Ernest Aflakpui 13, Derrick Jones 13, Joe Mostardi 2, Armand Sorrentino 3.
IC: Jakwan Jones 4, Deryl Bagwell 2, Brandon Austin 25, Basil Thompson 2, Abraham Massaley 9, Jalil Myers 2, Dymir Logan 4, Nigel Grant 4, Deion Evans 2.