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Pub Playoffs: Elijah Taylor dominates on, off court for Imhotep; MCS also advances

02/13/2020, 11:15pm EST
By Ari Glazier and Mitchell Gladstone

Elijah Taylor (above, in Dec.) does a lot more than just dominate on the court for Imhotep Charter. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

Ari Glazier (@AriGlazier)

Imhotep Charter senior Elijah Taylor boasts quite the resume, even if you exclude his three state championships. 

The 6-9 big man serves as both the Imhotep student body president and the Student Representative to the School Board, on top of being a member of the National Honor Society. On the court, Taylor is a defensive powerhouse committed to play for Notre Dame in the fall. 

“I feel like it doesn’t hurt to have your hand in a bit of everything,” Taylor said. “I pretty much know what’s going on behind closed doors within our school.”

Taylor’s initial interest in school politics stems from a long term mindset. Taylor was keenly aware of the networking opportunities available to him in these leadership positions. 

That’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy his role, or savor his authority.

“The idea of being the Student President stuck out to me,” Taylor said. “I was like, ‘oh that sounds fun’. At first it was about the title, and then what came with it was kind of nice too, handling the responsibilities, being involved.”

As student body president, Taylor is responsible disseminating information down the line towards the Imhotep student body, as well as organizing events and making sure that the student voice is accounted for in decision making. As for the school board, Taylor has had to miss quite a few meetings due to basketball, but plays a similar role, conveying the information that is presented in the meetings to his fellow students.

Surprisingly, Taylor claims to have no issues juggling his school work, student government responsibilities, and basketball. He sticks to a strict schedule, getting most of his work done at school, that allows him to come home stress-free, where he only has to focus on “shower, sleep, repeat.”

“He does everything,” coach Andre Noble said. “He’s been doing it since he’s been a ninth grader, so it’s nothing new for him. He’s the real deal.”

Taylor came into the Imhotep program one year behind a wildly talented 2019 class that included four current Division I players in Chereef Knox (Saint Joseph's), Dahmir Bishop (St. Joe’s), Jamil Riggins (Quinnipiac), and Donta Scott (Maryland). 

During the three years where those four players and Taylor made up Imhotep’s core, they captured three Public League regular season and tournament championships, two District 12 4A championships and three 4A State Championships. All the while, they only lost one regular season Pub game, to Constitution early in Taylor’s freshman year.

This season has thrust Taylor, and Imhotep as a whole into some new scenery. No longer part of a dominant unit, Taylor is the unquestioned star of a strong team, but one that will have to grind out wins over programs with similar raw talent. 

In fact, Imhotep was unable to pick up its fifth straight regular season Pub championship this year, although their only loss came to the eventual champions Simon Gratz.  

Taylor will need to consistently put up numbers like his 21 and 10 double-double against Olney in the Public League quarterfinals on Thursday. 

The loss of most of its starting lineup pushed first-year players, point guard Rahmir Barno and wing Justin Edwards, as well as sophomore combo guard Naji Reid, into starting roles.

“It’s been a great adjustment period for everybody,” said Taylor, a 2019 third team all Public League honoree. “They’re forced into their role, they’re a little inexperienced. It’s kind of hard dealing with that, but they want it, I want it, so that’s one thing we can agree on.”

Taylor benefited from being a part of one of the area’s best groups of players in plenty of ways, not the least of it being the recruiting attention it netted him. 

“When they would come in and watch Jamil, and Dante, and Dahmir, they would end up seeing me, like ‘who is this kid,” Taylor said. “if it weren’t for them drawing that kind of attention, I don’t think I’d be in the places I am now.”

Taylor’s decision to call Notre Dame home for the next four years is very much in line with his rationale for dedicating himself to student government. Taylor has his eyes on long-term goals, as well as basketball success. He’s putting significant thought into his life outside of basketball, and is thinking about pursuing a business or marketing degree.

But before Taylor leaves the confines of Imhotep, he still has a shot to obtain even more hardware to cap off an illustrious career. Imhotep will face off with Math Civics & Sciences on Wednesday at South Philadelphia in a Public League semifinal. 

In their last meeting, Imhotep escaped with a one-point victory at home. Taylor likes his team’s chances.

“We’re getting better with each day, and we’re on a roll now,” Taylor said. “So I don’t see a lot of things stopping us.”

By Quarter:
Imhotep:   17   |  17  |  13  |  12  |  59
Olney:       10  |  11  |   7   |  18  |  46

Imhotep: 20-48 FG, 6-18 3PT, 13-18 FT
Olney: 17-58 FG, 2-15 3PT, 10-16 FT

Imhotep: Taylor 21, Wylie 15, Reid 9, Barro 5, Edward 4, Harley 3, Hunter 2
Olney: McNair 21, Glover 10, Rayford 10, Tribbett 3, Terry 2

Mitchell Gladstone (@mpgladstone13)

Capping the Thursday night doubleheader at Imhotep was a tussle between Math, Civics and Sciences and Boys’ Latin, which wasn’t necessarily expected to be a fight to the finish.

But a third-quarter surge from the Warriors turned what could’ve been a rout into a 32-minute battle.

Still, MCS managed to escape with a 56-52 victory thanks to a late free throw from Naadhir Wood. Nisine Poplar led the way for the Mighty Elephants with 17 points, despite sitting much of the night with foul trouble.

“He’s a special talent,” MCS coach Lonnie Diggs said of Poplar. “I thought he did a good job of playing through [his fouls] and he gave us some help at the end.”

The Mighty Elephants needed all the help they could get. After leading 30-23 at halftime and by double digits in the early stages of the second half, Boys’ Latin found its groove. Amir Mims scored seven points in the third quarter — the senior finished Thursday’s game with 16 — and the Warriors took their only lead of the night at 47-46 with 4:05 left in the game.

That was the time for MCS to assert itself. The No. 3 seed from the 'A' Division closed with a 10-5 run to advance to the semis, where it will meet Imhotep next week.

“We made the game hard [on ourselves,]” Diggs said. “I’ve been saying that all year.”

By Quarter:
MCS:   15 | 15 | 10 | 16 | 56
BL:   12 | 11 | 16 | 13 | 52

MCS: 17-35 FG, 2-9 3PT, 20-34 FT
BL: 20-55 FG, 7-22 3PT, 5-13 FT

MCS: Poplar 17, Wood 10, Jones 9, Middleton 7, Barro 5, Edwards 3, Nixon 3, Fleming 2
BL: Mims 16, And. Clark 10, Thomas 10, Adam Clark 6, Savage 6, Jordan 2, Williams 2

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Tag(s): Home  High School  Public League A  Imhotep  Math, Civics & Sci.  Public League B  Boys' Latin  Olney  Public League