Imhotep Charter Repeats as PIAA Class AA Boys Champs With Overtime Win Over Beaver Falls

Saturday, March 24, 2012 | 5:28 PM

Imhotep Charter claimed their second straight PIAA Boys Class AA title, but this time it wasn't easy. The Panthers defeated the Beaver Falls Tigers 56-54 in overtime at the Bryce Jordan Center. It's the third overall title and the second won in extra time, the Panthers need two extra sessions to defeat North Catholic in the 2009 championship game. It was a lot easier last year, the Panthers blew out Greensburg Central Catholic 67-34.

Shakur Nesmith forced overtime with a steal and score with 19 seconds remaining. Coach Andre Noble said his kids could have given up at that point, but Nesmith read the trap right and was able to get the tying points. The Tigers had a chance to win it, but Sheldon Jeter missed a deep three.

Beaver Falls scored the first two points of the extra period on a Jeter rebound and drive, but Brandon Austin took over for the Panthers with a jumper in the paint and a steal and slam to put Imhotep up. The Panthers went up by four at 56-52, but went two of six from the line down the stretch. Beaver Falls had a chance to tie with a Drew Cook three from the left corner, Cook did hit a 12 footer to cut the lead to 56-54. Austin missed both free throws and Cook took a jumper that was just before the buzzer, it clanked off the win and the celebration was on for Imhotep Charter.

Khyree Wooten led the Panthers with 15 points, he was just 3 of 9 from the line. Brandon Austin finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, the 6-6 junior has verbally committed to Penn State. Imhotep Charter finishes 22-8, they entered the tournament as the fourth place team from District 12.

Sheldon Jeter finished his career at BF with a double double, 22 points and 11 rebounds, however Jeter was 10 of 32 from the field, he missed all ten three point attempts. Elijah Cottrill and Cook each had 11 points for the Tigers, who saw a 14 game winning streak come to an end, finishing 28-3.

It was not a good weekend for the WPIAL teams, going 0-3 in boys action and 1-5 overall, with Seton LaSalle the only winner in Girls Class AA.

Beaver Falls trailed 16-8 after one, Imhotep Charter shot 7 of 11 from the field while the Tigers were 4 of 14, missing all five three point attempts. Head Coach Doug Biaga said the Tigers may have come out a little bit flat or in awe.

The Panthers took their biggest lead of the half of ten points, then went over six minutes without a point. Beaver Falls did not take advantage at first, but after a media timeout, the Tigers exploded with Jeter leading the way with five points and a great dish to Cottrill. Jeter tied the game at twenty, Cottrill put the Tigers up with a three from the right corner.

It would be the Tigers turn to go cold, the Panthers started the third with a 7-0 run with a freshman, Devin Liggeons, leading the way with four of the seven points. After a Kevin Cancel jumper, Wooten took over the period with seven points, including a serious dunk to put Imhotep Charter up 37-28.

That set up the fourth quarter, Nigel Grant, who battled a bum right ankle since the second quarter scored on a layup to put Imhotep up 44-35 with 5:15 remaining. but the Tigers rallied again, Jeter with a three point play, Cook with a jumper and a Dayne Richardson steal, leading to a Cook three point play, put the Tigers down one.

After Wooten missed a free throw, Jeter hit a left wing jumper to give Beaver Falls the lead. That lasted all of fourteen seconds, Wooten hit a jumper to change the one point lead to the opposite side of the board. But Richardson came up big again, grabbing a Jeter miss and putting it home and a foul to put the Tigers up 48-46 with 46 seconds left.

Kamani Jordan missed a bunny, Richardson grabbed the defensive board and got the outlet to Cottrill, who was fouled. But it was Beaver Falls' turn to miss a key free throw, Cottrill empty on the front end, but he was bailed out when Austin walked with 25 seconds left. Coach Noble subbed Nesmith into the game and he did the rest.

Noble said he was proud of how his players reacted, the Panthers had some personnel issues during the post-season. He felt the Panthers were well prepared for this game, playing a national non-league schedule like Chester and the schools in the Philadelphia Public League.

When asked if Austin took it as a challenge playing Jeter, Noble said that Austin guards the best player every game, like Rashid Jordan and Amire Jefferson. The coach added that Austin is like another coach on the floor, with the questions that he asks in practice.

Since the creation of District 12 for the 2006 season, a team from that district has played for a Class AA title every year. In addition to Imhotep's three titles, Prep Charter won back to back titles in 2006-07, the only team that has not had success is Strawberry Mansion, falling in 2008 to Jeannette and South Fayette in 2010. 

The Panthers shot 22 of 47 from the floor with 2 three pointers, but just 10 of 23 from the line, with 19 turnovers. Beaver Falls shot 22 of 69, which includes 2 of 21 from three, the Tigers also struggled at 8 of 18 from the charity stripe. Beaver Falls only had 11 turnovers.

Biaga said he was proud of his kids all season, the Tigers faced some serious adversity during the year, including having to play a game vs. New Brighton in an empty gym, due to off the floor issues. To win a WPIAL title and make it to the state championship game, falling in overtime. He added there was only two teams standing coming into the game and they lost in overtime.

Score by Quarters: 
Beaver Falls Tigers  8-15-5-20-6  = 54
Imhotep Charter Panthers  16-5-16-11-8  = 56

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