WHITEMARSH >> Plymouth Whitemarsh spent Saturday afternoon looking in a mirror.
The Colonials have spent much of this basketball season frustrating opponents with their pressure defense, but they were on the receiving end of it for once thanks to Imhotep Charter. PW had its moments, but the Panthers showed why they’re among the best teams in the state year after year and showed the Colonials what the next gear looks like.
A dominant second quarter helped propel Imhotep past PW 67-45 in a late addition to the schedule this week.
“All I wanted was us competing defensively and there were moments where you were right on the money but they have gears we haven’t seen all year,” PW coach Jim Donofrio said. “They can also shoot it like crazy, you know that’s going to happen.”
With PW (13-2) stuck on 14 games and looking at a three-week break before the start of the District 1-6A tournament, the Colonials were game to play anyone. This week’s bad weather cost the Panthers a couple games, so Imhotep coach Andre Noble reached out to Donofrio and they quickly set something up.
In a normal year, the Colonials usually meet up with teams on Imhotep’s level a couple times, so it was a no-brainer to take the challenge.
“We’ve been great this year but at the same time, it’s a compliment he would call us to play,” Donofrio said. “We’re going to take it because the kids have to see what it is. It’s a pace up.”
The first quarter was high-paced but pretty even with Luke DiCianno and Qudire Bennett each scoring five points as the host Colonials took a 12-11 lead after eight minutes. It wouldn’t go so well for PW over the next eight minutes as the Panthers broke out their pressure defense.
PW turned the ball over seven times in the quarter while the Panthers outscored the hosts 24-8 led by 14 points from guard Rahmir Barno. Barno and backcourt mate Naji Reid were terrific, scoring 24 and 21 points respectively and their quickness on the court had PW flustered just trying to advance the ball up the floor.
“This game was won in the second quarter when we looked at a press defense that wasn’t really trapping but quickly taking up space and we looked very, very young,” Donofrio said. “Guess what? You just played against yourselves. That’s what you’ve done to people for 14 games and if you didn’t like it, learn from it.”
After going into the half trailing 35-20, the Colonials found some of their swagger after halftime. Zende Hubbard, who had been held to two points in the first half, got rolling and sparked his team with 10 points and two assists in the third quarter.
Although Hubbard fouled out in the fourth, the guard impressed with a team-high 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks. The Colonials won the third quarter 19-16, but missed a couple chances to get the lead down to 10 points and make Imhotep respond.
“With that kind of talent, they’re going to speed you up and our guys haven’t seen that,” Donofrio said. “That’s what these games become. Only our best teams have been able to control it, so in that way it’s OK but if you want to play that more freelance, read-and-react basketball, you have to make shots.”
Bennett finished with 11 and DiCianno scored nine for PW, which also got seven points, seven rebounds and three assists from Zuri Jerman.
PW had added another test in preparation for the playoffs when it travels to District 3 contender Central Dauphin on Wednesday. Imhotep Charter gave the Colonials a look at something they weren’t going to get anywhere else and for a team that relies on quite a few freshmen and sophomores, it was worth the experience.
“If you win a game like this, terrific, you probably played brilliantly,” Donofrio said. “You have to shoot 48, 50 percent from the floor and we didn’t. Even if you do, you’re in it, you’re there but you still have to be great at the end they’re going to raise the pressure. So if it’s humbling, it’s OK.”
IMHOTEP CHARTER 67, PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 45
IMHOTEP CHARTER 11 24 16 16 – 67
PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 12 8 19 6 – 45
Imhotep Charter: Naji Reid 5 8-8 21, Rahmir Barno 7 7-8 24, Justin Edwards 3 4-5 11, Mo Abdullah 2 2-2 7, Amaury Hunter 1 0-0 2, Jeremiah White 1 0-0 2. Totals:19 22-23 67.
Plymouth Whitemarsh: Zende Hubbard 5 2-2 12, Luke DiCianno 4 0-0 9, Qudire Bennett 3 3-3 11, Zuri Jerman 3 1-2 7, Jake West 1 0-0 2, Jalen Harris 1 0-0 2, Steve Forchielli 0 0-1 0. Totals: 15 6-8 45.
3-pointers: IC – Reid 3, Barno 3, Edwards, Abdullah; PW – Bennett 2, DiCianno.