Written by: on Friday, December 24th, 2021



Imhotep Charter defeated Neumann-Goretti 64-58 on Thursday night in a game between two of the very best Pennsylvania teams that was the feature contest in a showcase presented by the Scholastic Play-by-Play Network at Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, DE. The closeness of the game is is illustrated by the fact that there were 14 ties and eight lead changes in the contest. The game was of very high quality and lived up to expectations for a major showdown between two teams with great state championship prospects come March. These teams are perennial powers and have outstanding coaches: Andre Noble, of Imhotep, and Carl Arrigale, of Neumann-Goretti.

The decisive element of the game was Imhotep Charter’s switch to a 1-3-1 zone defense at the beginning of the second half. The 1-3-1 is a difficult defense for high school teams to master, because it requires defenders to slide into various positions quickly in response to the offense’s ball movement. The 1-3-1 is not used much these days in high school games because of its vulnerability to 3 point shots from the corners and from the elbows extended. Rarely is an important high school game won by a team that relies much on a 1-3-1 zone. Imhotep Charter played the 1-3-1 on Thursday night the way the defense’s long ago inventor, Hall of Fame Coach Clair Bee, described how the defense should be deployed in his classic book on the 1-3-1. Neumann-Goretti seemed to be caught off guard, at first, when Imhotep switched to the 1-3-1 in the second half.

The game was played at a fast pace. Imhotep had a size advantage, but Neumann, as they usually do, had terrific guard play from several quick backcourt players. These are unselfish teams with balanced attacks. Seven Imhotep players scored in the first quarter, and five Neumann players hit the scorebook in the first frame. Both teams attacked inside and made 3 pointers in the first stanza. Throughout the first half, there was little to separate the teams on the scoreboard, but Neumann had slight leads most of the way in the second quarter.

Imhotep opened the third quarter in their 1-3-1 and stuck to that defense for most of the game’s last 16 minutes. Imhotep also hit the boards hard in the third frame, out-rebounding Neumann nine to four in the third quarter, and six of those Imhotep rebounds were on the offensive glass. Imhotep’s offensive rebounding is traditionally strong, and half of their 36 rebounds in this game were offensive.

Although Imhotep’s defensive switch made things difficult for Neumann in the second half, the Saints had a strong third quarter and led 48-46 with eight minutes left to play.

Rahmir Barno, a 6″ junior guard had a terrific fourth quarter for Imhotep, scoring eight points in the final frame. After Barno tied the game at 50 on a drive early in the final stanza, Neumann went up by three on a 3 pointer by 6′ 1″ senior Masud Stewart. Imhotep responded with 7-0 run on a drive by 6′ 4″ senior Mo Abdullah, a hoop inside by Barno, a free throw by 5′ 11″ senior Ronny Raphael, and a putback by 6′ 7″ junior Justin Edwards to take a 57-53 lead. However, Neumann was not finished, cutting Imhotep’s lead to one point on a 3 pointer by 5′ 11″ sophomore Khaafiq Myers. Imhotep’s Ahmad Nowell responded with a 3 pointer, followed by a couple of free throws by Neumann’s Robert Wright, a 6′ sophomore. That cut Imhotep’s lead to 60-58. However, Imhotep scored the game’s last two baskets on a floater by Barno and a tipin by Edwards to finish a game that was as close as a high school basketball game can possibly be.

These teams are playing championship non-conference schedules in preparation for quests for league and state titles, and this game was indicative of that. The view from here is that teams with championship aspirations should schedule challenging non-conference games, as Imhotep and Neumann do every season.

Imhotep had a 36 to 22 advantage on the boards, and they had 18 offensive rebounds to Neumann’s 14 defensive rebounds. Imhotep had 12 turnovers to 14 for Neumann-Goretti. Imhotep was four for eight from the line, and Neumann was 12 for 20. Both teams have good outside shooting, and Imhotep Charter made four 3 pointers in the game, while Neumann made 11 shots from behind the arc. Six different Neumann players made 3 pointers in this game. Interestingly, Neumann made fewer 3 pointers vs. Imhotep’s 1-3-1 than they did vs. Imhotep’s man-to-man defense; that’s counterintuitive.

Imhotep Charter scoring: Rahmir Barno 16, Justin Edwards 16, Ahmad Nowell 13, Mo Abdullah 6, Makye Taylor 5, Ronny Raphael 3, Yamir Satterfield 3, and Chad Anglin 2.

Neumann-Goretti scoring: Robert Wright 15, Masud Stewart 12, Khaafiq Myers 10, Sultan Adewale 9, Aamir Hurst 5, Shawn Battle 3, and Bruce Smith 3.

Imhotep Charter 17 12 17 18-64
Neumann-Goretti 14 18 16 10-58

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