READING – Imhotep Charter coach Andre Noble fully realized his players did not put forth the type of performance worthy of a squad ranked among the top 10 in the country.
"It was just bad," he said after the Panthers topped District 3's Middletown, 79-60, in Friday night's PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal playoff at the Geigle Complex. "Luckily we won and get the chance to continue in the tournament."
Imhotep, which was slotted No. 8 in USA Today's most recent Super 25, did not have its usual focus or intensity against the Blue Raiders. A sign of that was the 19 turnovers (12 in the middle two quarters) committed by the Public League champs.
"Obviously, the expectation is for this team to win a state championship," Noble said. "But nobody is going to hand it to us. We're going to have to go out and earn it."
Next for the Panthers (29-2) is Monday night's semifinal against District 11 titlist Bethlehem Catholic (28-3) at a neutral site and time to be determined.
In beating outmanned Middletown, located outside of Harrisburg, the Panthers moved to within two victories of the their sixth state crown. They went 31-2 last season and routed District 10's Strong Vincent, 80-52, for top honors.
Donta Scott led the way against the Blue Raiders (19-8) with 21 points, eight rebounds (three on offense), two assists, and a blocked shot.
The 6-foot-7 junior and Division 1 recruit shot 6 for 12 from the field (1 for 3 from beyond the arc) and 8 for 11 from the line.
"I think Donta asserted himself and started playing much better as the game went along," Noble said.
Imhotep shot 10 for 15 from the floor in the first quarter and was comfortably ahead, 22-7. It was spurred in the early going by Scott, Dahmir Bishop, and reserve Karam Cummings.
Down by 31-15 in the second quarter, Middletown managed an 8-2 run to cut the gap to 10 at intermission. The Blue Raiders pulled to within five (44-39) in the third on sub Tymir Jackson's three-pointer.
"They played hard. They were scrappy and turned out to be what they looked like on film," said Noble, whose group shot 22 for 28 from the foul line in the second half and 31 for 40 overall.
Bishop, a 6-5 junior wing, finished with 13 points, eight boards, and four assists. Senior guard Bernard Lightsey shot 10 for 10 from the line while also producing 13 points.
Lightsey's right-wing trey gave the Panthers a 61-50 advantage with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the contest.
Cummings, a junior guard, chipped in 11 points and five boards; 6-6 junior Chereef Knox notched seven boards and six points; and 6-8 sophomore Elijah Taylor contributed six points and four boards.
Middletown 7 16 21 16 – 60
Imhotep Charter 22 11 20 26 – 79
M: Ryan Hughes 19, Kyle Truesdale 10, Chris Plummer 1, Tre Leach 16, Tyler Petroski 6, David Alcock 2, Tymir Jackson 6.