Vincentian falls to Philadelphia’s Sankofa Freedom Academy in PIAA Class A final

Thursday, March 21, 2019 | 3:57 PM

HERSHEY — While preparing for the state finals, Vincentian Academy coach Tim Tyree studied two separate game films of Sankofa Freedom Academy.

“One in which they really shot the ball well,” Tyree said, “and one in which they didn’t.”

To his dismay, Sankofa’s sharp-shooting version showed up Thursday at Giant Center to defeat Vincentian, 83-61, in the PIAA Class A boys basketball championship. The Philadelphia charter school went 6 for 9 from 3-point range in the first half and shot 64 percent from the field overall to build a 21-point halftime lead.

Vincentian trailed 45-24 at half and 63-35 after three.

The WPIAL runner-up led 8-5 before Sankofa sparked a 19-2 run and quickly pulled away with 3s, layups and dunks.

“It was really just a matter of hoping those shots didn’t go in,” Tyree said, “and today they did.”

The PIAA title was the first for Sankofa (18-10), which competes in the Philadelphia public league. The District 12 champions had four scorers in double figures led by senior Scott Spann with 26 points.

Derrius Ward, a 6-foot-5 junior with Division I offers, added 20 points. Khalil Turner and Kobe Devine each scored 12.

The 6-6 Turner is a Rider commit. The Warriors had size, forced 16 turnovers, shared the basketball (21 assists) and played above the rim (six dunks).

“When you (face) a really athletic or really skilled team that can shoot like that, it’s going to make for a long any time,” Tyree said. “But I’m proud of our guys and what we accomplished this year. And I’m proud of how they came out there and competed.”

Sophomore Angelo Reeves had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Vincentian (20-9), which was making its first appearance in the state finals. The Royals reached both the WPIAL and PIAA finals this season but finished as runners-up twice.

Two silver medals in one season could be discouraging for some teams, but Tyree points to a roster that has only one senior. The Royals started two juniors (Nate Cullo, Ethan Embleton), two sophomores (Reeves, Alex Griggs) and a freshman (Matt McDonough).

“We have the opportunity to be here for a couple of years, so it’s really about owning (the loss),” Tyree said. “Character is built on how you respond to this.”

Sankofa entered the finals with 10 losses, but the Warriors played a difficult schedule. Among them were losses to Class 5A finalist Archbishop Wood, Class 4A finalist Imhotep Charter and Class 3A finalist Math, Civics and Sciences Charter.

“We put together a tough schedule on purpose,” said Sankofa coach Isaiah Thomas, who’s also campaigning for a seat on Philadelphia city council. “We feel like we have some of the best players in the area. We wanted them to compete against some of the best players in the area. We think that helped prepare us for this moment. ”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .


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