Panthers take the trophy in overtime
(Photo Left) Public League champions Imhotep Charter. Photo by Sarah J. Glover.
Jihad Watson, Will McNair and Elijah Kiah-El played a huge role in turning around Martin Luther King’s boys basketball season, this year. And it’s not over! The three played starring roles in an overtime loss to Imhotep Charter on Feb. 24 that decided the Public League championship game. It was an outing few people thought would be so close.
It was the Panthers (25-2) second Philadelphia Public League title in four years, and sent star guard Daron Russell to Rhode Island as a two-time champ. King (20-9) overcame a 5-5 start to play the best defensive game on Imhotep since Neumann-Goretti beat them easily, back on Dec. 14. “The game versus Imhotep was a great game as we played hard and strong defensively, but didn’t come out with the victory,” said King’s coach Sean Colson. “We could have played a little smarter. Twenty-four turnovers is a lot, but we shot well and defended well. They were frustrated at times which was a good sign for us.”
Indeed Imhotep shot a season low, 17 for 73 and 2 for 28, from three-point land. “We know we are a top team because of the work our players and coaches put into this,” he added. “We just lost some close games early on because we are a fairly young team. We still want to go for a 5A [PIAA] state title and see what happens.” Colson’s squad played Archbishop Wood, the area’s top ranked team in 5A on March 3. King took one on the chin with a 87 to 52 drubbing to Wood but still qualified for the state playoffs.
Colson said he was expecting a great contest. “They are just like Imhotep,” he said. “They are both good teams with good coaches and good guard play and one main scorer we had to contend with. (Wood’s Collin Gillespie scores over 22 points a game and has signed with Villanova.). So, we expected it would be a similar style at how they attack you when you are on defense. It was a challenge but we responded and I think we will make a run in the state tournament.” Coach Colson continued, “This game didn’t go our way. As I have mentioned before we are a young team and always learning. Archbishop Wood really came out on fire and we didn't match that intensity. Hopefully it was a learning experience for us. I still feel we can overcome it."