Khalif Washington leads Overbrook to state playoff victory

Khalif Washington hugs teammate Cyrie Coates at the end of Overbrook’s 76-51 triumph over Lower Moreland.

Even though Overbrook has a storied boys’ basketball history, the school that Wilt Chamberlain made famous has not made any noise in the PIAA state playoffs in 18 years.

There’s a chance for Khalif Washington and the Panthers to do so this year, as they opened the tournament with a 76-51 rout of turnover-prone Lower Moreland in a first-round contest Friday night at Bensalem.

“This is really big for the program,” Washington said. “We’re excited about accomplishing this, but of course we want to keep it going.”

Washington, a junior point guard and sixth man, registered a game-high 21 points, four steals, four rebounds, and three assists in the surprisingly lopsided victory.

“I just try to take what the defense gives me, drive to the basket when there’s an opening, and get my teammates involved as much as possible,” he said.

The 5-foot-9, 150-pounder shot 8 for 14 from the field, including 2 for 5 from beyond the arc, and 3 for 5 from the line. “He’s a dynamic scorer,” Overbrook second-year coach Keenan Rand said matter-of-factly.

Camera icon ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Lower Moreland’s Shane Cohen watches as Overbrook’s Khalif Washington loses control of the ball while driving to the net in the 2nd half of the Lower Moreland vs. Overbrook H.S. Class 4A boys basketball first round game at Bensalem H.S. on March 9, 2018. Overbrook won 76-51.

Washington accounted for all of the scoring in a 10-2 run that gave the Panthers (17-8) a 22-10 lead on the Lions in the second quarter.

The 17-year-old drilled a buzzer-beating shot from halfcourt at the end of the first quarter and opened the second with another three-pointer, a pull-jumper, and a driving bucket.

Even though he averaged about 29 points per game last season, Washington comes off the bench. “We have a deep and balanced team, and that allows me to do that,” Rand said. “Khalif handled it very well, which was nice to see. He’s a good teammate.”

In Tuesday’s second round, the Panthers will take on the winner of Friday night’s first-round contest between District 4’s Montoursville and District 3’s Middletown at a neutral site and time to be announced Sunday.

Washington and company forced Lower Moreland into committing 25 turnovers, with 14 coming in the first half.

“Defense wins championships,” Washington said. “We like to pressure the ball, make the other team uncomfortable.”

Overbrook’s Ray West (five boards and five assists) and Cyrie Coates, who nailed a pair of treys, each netted 12 points; Zyeef Cannon was next in line with nine points; and freshman Nasir Minor contributed eight fourth-quarter points.

T.J.Taylor also performed well for District 12’s No. 3 seed. He pitched in six boards (three on offense), four points, four assists, and two blocks.

Junior floor general Shane Cohen paced the Lions (20-9) with 16 points, five assists, four boards and three steals.

Overbrook 15 11 19 18-76

Lower Moreland 10 11 8 22-51

O: T.J. Taylor 4, Naim Walker 2, Malik Bonney 6, Cyrie Coates 12, Ray West 12, Khalif Washington 21, Nasir Minor 8, Zyeef Cannon 9, Spencer Robinson 2.

LM: Shane Cohen 16, Anthony Finnegan 2, Dan Shimon 5, Jordan Zoubroulis 2, Forrest Keys 11, Jake Himmelstein 10, John Przybylinski 3, Deemos Amanatidis 2.