skip navigation

'All Business' as Imhotep girls repeat as Public League champs

02/26/2022, 11:45pm EST
By Missy Dougherty

Missy Dougherty (@missyingyou)

In a season that was marked by a lot of new faces on the Imhotep Charter girls basketball roster, the storyline remained very familiar as the Lady Panthers claimed their second straight Philadelphia Public league title and fourth in the last six seasons with a 55-45 victory over Mastery Charter North on Saturday afternoon at the Liacouras Center.

“At the end of the day, it’s just business,” senior Taniyah Finney said, as she reflected on Imhotep’s workmanlike performance on the championship stage. “We wanted to drive and kick to our open teammates and get to the foul line and we did just that.” 

Samya Stevens (above) and Imhotep celebrate the 2022 Public League championship. (Photo: Gavin Bethell/CoBL)

Finney’s classmate Janai Smith echoed the sense of teamwork that pervaded Imhotep’s championship effort. 

“We just kept working hard, tried to stay consistent, and had contributions from everyone on the team,” Smith said. “This is a rivalry as we seem to play Mastery Charter every year in the championship but we go into the game expecting to win.”

Imhotep head coach David Hargrove has indeed instilled a winning mentality as the Lady Panthers have made an appearance in the title tilt in each of his six years on the sideline.

“All the championships have their own story,” Hargrove said, “but this one is definitely special because of all the new faces on this year’s roster.”

After losing six players to graduation last year from a team that took eventual PIAA Class 3A state champion West Catholic to the wire in the district final, Imhotep dealt with early-season growing pains, losing five of their first eight games of the season.

The Lady Panthers (13-7) would go on to lose just two more games over the remainder of the regular season, but that included a glaring 59-22 setback to visiting Mastery Charter on February 3 where Imhotep was missing some key players.

None of that seemed to matter as Hargrove’s players stuck together and continued to stay true to their “company culture.”

“We just remained patient,” senior Mikala Rambert-Carter said. “We try to focus on controlling our response to what happens. Missed shots, fouls, adversity. Whatever. Whoever stays together longer puts themselves in a better position to win. That’s always a key for us. We all have defined roles and we all embrace them.”

Janai Smith (above) had 15 points in Imhotep's championship win. (Photo: Gavin Bethell/CoBL)

Facing a slim 13-9 deficit after the first quarter, Imhotep stayed focused on the end goal and rallied with a surge of their own fueled by six points from junior Samya Stevens and five from Smith to take a one-point lead into the locker room at intermission (23-22).

“We talked at half about turning up the defense and rebounding,” Hargrove said. “We wanted to extend our pressure and speed the game up to get Mastery on its heels while playing the way we play best.”

Praising the work of his coaching staff, Hargrove reiterated his squad’s commitment to sticking together. “We believe our team is an extension of our school’s mission,” Hargrove said. “We need to be together to be successful.”

The Lady Panthers definitely came out united in the pivotal third quarter as their extended defensive pressure and renewed enthusiasm on the glass caused headaches for Mastery. Senior Ahjae Anderson managed the Lady Pumas’ lone field goal of the period with a minute to go on the clock.

On the offensive end, Imhotep shared the ball with perfection as five different players tallied points in the decisive quarter that saw the defending champions open a comfortable double-figure lead, 40-27.

Imhotep closed out the contest with an 11-for-15 performance from the free throw line in the fourth including a stellar 5-for-6 performance by game MVP Stevens, who finished with a game-high 19 points. Smith and Finney finished with 15 and 13, respectively.

The trips to the foul line were indeed plentiful throughout the contest as the two teams combined to shoot 56 free throws on the afternoon. Imhotep finished 20-for-31 from the charity stripe, while Mastery went 12-for-25.

Senior Veyoni Davis was the lone player to reach double figures for Mastery (17-4) with 16.

Smith and Finney are not sure yet where they will continue their careers next year, and Rambert-Carter was non-committal about future plans. One thing for certain is there will be more business to attend to as  Imhotep moves on to face Neumann Goretti in the District 12 Class 3A championship game on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. while Mastery Charter will do battle with Archbishop Wood in the Class 4A city championship on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Both contests will take place at La Salle College High School.

By Quarter
Imhotep:             9   |  14  |  17  |  15  ||  55
Mastery North:  13  |   9   |   5   |  18  ||  45

I: Samya Stevens 19, Janai Smith 15, Taniyah Finney 13, Mikala Rambert-Carter 4, Calista Gaymon 2, Senaya Parker 2

MN: Veyoni Davis 16, Taysia Anderson 8, Nariyah Turner 8, Ahjae Anderson 6, Umayrah Sulayman 5, Ayanna Eldridge 2

D-I Coverage:

Small-College News:

Recruiting News:

Tag(s): Home  Boys HS  Public League (B)  Public League A (B)  Imhotep  Mastery North  High School  Women's  Missy Dougherty