Imhotep dominates, defends PIAA title

The snowstorm that pushed back the PIAA championships in Hershey didn’t just delay Imhotep from defending its Class 4A boys’ basketball title, it also meant more practice time.

And if you’ve ever witnessed the intensity of a Panthers practice, you know exactly why they’re great.

The gym that they often share with their girls’ team is hot, sweat flies, sneakers squeak, coaches squawk and bodies collide.

“That snowstorm really killed us,” junior forward Chereef Knox said, smiling, “because those four days, that was crazy. The last practices and you’ve got to give all you got.”

Monday night at the Giant Center in Hershey, the hard work culminated in the domination of District 10’s Sharon, 71-35, in a game that wasn’t in doubt for very long.

The Panthers (31-2) won their sixth PIAA title after clinching their eighth Public League crown and are likely again to finish Top 10 in the nation in the USA Today rankings.

“The thing that feels really great is that they’re our kids,” coach Andre Noble said. “Our top 10 guys, every one of them, started here as a ninth grader and they’re here now as juniors and seniors and sophomores. They’ve followed through with the program when a lot of times guys are in and out. These guys stuck it out and could have been other places. This is like the fruit of all their work, so I’m really happy for them.”

Junior Dahmir Bishop led the Panthers with 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 3 of 5 from three and 5 of 5 from the foul line. He also added three steals and two blocks.

Senior guard Bernard Lightsey added 13 points.

It was the Panthers’ defense, however, that was most impressive.

Sharon (27-3), which entered Monday as a winner of 24 straight games, managed just eight field goals all game, four of them from behind the three-point line.

Only three Tigers tallied field goals. Elite Williams led the way 15 points (4 of 11), while Ethan Porterfield added 3 of 12 shots. Frank Shaffer, late in the game, added the other field goal.

“We defend,” Noble said when asked what the key to his team’s dominance has been all season.

Noble said his team played more zone this season than in previous years because he was concerned about not having enough foot speed from smaller, quicker guards in years past.

There wasn’t a noticeable lack of anything on Monday.

“That’s been our plan all year,” Bishop said. “We just try to get after guys every game. You don’t really catch us with opponents in a high-scoring game. That’s been our plan all year.”

The Panthers defended the ball, shot it well and shared it even better. Donta Scott, one of the city’s best players, had a great defensive game, scored six points and finished with six assists.

The Panthers allowed only one field goal in the second quarter, which led to a 37-15 halftime bulge.

The lead swelled to, 60-24, after three quarters, even after the Panthers removed their starters with about four minutes left in the frame.

“I thought they did a really good job of being a good defensive team,” Noble said. “They know from breaking them in as freshmen that [defense] is what we’re about.”

Imhotep 17 20 23 11 71
Sharon 7 8 9 11 35

IM: Dahmir Bishop 20, Bernard Lightsey 13, Elijah Taylor 7, Donta Scott 6, Karam Cummings 6, Davonte Canty 2, Sammy Wylie 1, Themere Simmons 2, Jamil Riggins 6, Marquise Greenwood 2.

S: Elite Williams 15, Ethan Porterfield 8, Ramell Askerneese 5, Josh Torr 4, Frank Shaffer 2, Tristan Ballard 1.