By Jim Halley, USA TODAY High School Sports | January 13, 2018 3:39 pm
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia) is pretty good right now, but the Panthers, with only one senior starter in Bernard Lightsey, should be even better next season.
Imhotep, the No. 18 team in the Super 25 boys basketball rankings, improved to 12-2 as Jamil Riggins had 16 points and Elijah Taylor had 10 points and 11 rebounds and three blocks in a 66-38 defeat of Hillhouse (New Haven, Conn.) Saturday at the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
“We have a lot of juniors, so people keep saying we should be good, but we have to make sure we keep getting better,” Panthers coach Andre Noble said.
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Imhotep Charter possesses a lot of depth and team speed. Junior 6-7 guard Donta Scott is the No. 2-ranked player in the state, but junior 6-6 wings Chereef Knox and Jamil Riggins and the ultra-quick junior guard tandem of Dahmir Bishop and Fatayn Wesley are all Division-I prospects. The biggest recruit on the team may be Taylor, a 6-8 sophomore forward.
“We have so much depth,” Taylor said. “Anybody can score — we have so much talent that anyone can have 20 points on a given night. Whoever is going off, we let them go and work around that.”
The only thing the Panthers lack is a starter taller than 6-8 but that didn’t hurt them in their two losses to Super 25 opponents La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) and DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.).
“We play hard and usually in national games, we’re the smaller team,” Noble said. “But Chereef Knox and Jamil Biggins play bigger than they are, so that hasn’t really bothered us. The biggest thing for us is we’re doing a much better job of sharing the ball. This is the third game in a row where we had good ball movement.”
Imhotep took control early, outscoring Hillhouse 37-16 in the first half. Riggins, a junior small forward, led the way with nine points and the Panthers’ frenetic pace forced Hillhouse into eight turnovers and 24% shooting in the first two quarters.
The Panthers’ depth showed on the boards, where they enjoyed a 40-23 edge and in bench points, where they outscored the Academics 22-10.
Hillhouse (6-2) was led by Devon Warner with nine points.