STATE COLLEGE — Give Imhotep Charter coach Andre Noble a break before asking him about next season.
After winning an overtime thriller Saturday to take a second straight PIAA title, and third in four years, the Panthers' leader could use some relaxation time.
Brandon Austin had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Imhotep Charter withstood a poor showing at the free-throw line in OT to beat Beaver Falls 56-54 on Saturday to take another PIAA title.
"Not yet! Give me a minute, give me a day," Noble said when asked what his program had to do to extend its title run.
That's two straight Class 2A crowns, and three in four years, for the Philadelphia Public League powerhouse.
But the latest victory was far from easy for the Panthers (22-8).
Austin scored two key buckets in overtime, but missed two free throws with 4 seconds left with his team leading by two to give Beaver Falls one last shot.
The Tigers (28-3) rushed the ball up court, but Drew Cook's jumper bounced off the rim to finally give Imhotep the win.
For Austin, there's no comparison to last season's finals, a 67-34 rout of Greensburg Central Catholic — the win Saturday was more satisfying.
"Last year, we just breezed through it. This year, we had to fight to get it," Austin said in the locker room while nursing an ice pack on a sore hand.
Austin won an anticipated duel with Beaver Falls' Sheldon Jeter, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Austin, a junior, has verbally committed to Penn State. Jeter, a senior, also has an offer from the Nittany Lions but has yet to make a decision.
Boys AAAA Chester 59, Lower Merion 33
STATE COLLEGE — Chester made school history Saturday night, though at times the basketball didn't look pretty.
The Clippers and their vocal contingent of fans celebrated anyway after a satisfying 59-33 win over suburban Philadelphia rival Lower Merion for a second straight PIAA Class championship and the school's eighth overall.
Rondae Jefferson had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Chester outlasted the Aces in an often sluggish affair that ended in familiar fashion this year — Chester (32-0) capped off the first undefeated season in the school's impressive hoops history. Chester also extended its winning streak spanning two seasons to 58.
Coach Larry Yarbray — soaking wet after his players showered him with water in postgame celebration — stopped short of declaring this year's team the best ever at Chester.
"That's not for me to say. I will say this: Winning games and what you accomplish makes you the best team. Winning two straight championships — potentially we are," Yarbray said. "Maybe get better next year and we win a third, then what are the people going to say?"
Darius Robinson scored 11 points, while Shanier Cottman added seven, including a fall-away 3-pointer at the buzzer in the first quarter that helped spark the Clippers after a slow start.
STATE COLLEGE — Rondae Jefferson had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and unbeaten Chester outlasted Lower Merion for a second straight PIAA Class 4A championship.
After a slow start, Chester (32-0) pulled away by dominating the glass and taking advantage of the sloppy Aces (29-4). Lower Merion went without a field goal for a nearly 13-minute stretch until Mike Robbins hit a layup with about five minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Clippers answered with a 3-point play by Richard Granberry for a 12-point lead with 4:49 left, and Lower Merion didn't get closer than seven the rest of the way.
Chester won its eighth state title, but overcame its own mired sloppy play. The teams combined for 49 turnovers, 29 by Lower Merion.
Girls AAA Archbishop Wood 52, Lancaster Catholic 33
STATE COLLEGE — Jim Ricci knew his team had doubters.
So when Archbishop Wood began the season 7-8, Ricci pulled his aside to set the record straight.
"I told them, ‘The people within these four walls are the one that believe in you,"' Ricci recalled. "The 15 of us and the four coaches — as long as you believe in us, we believe in you and we'll get through it."
The Lady Vikings believed and the result was something familiar.
Jackie Pierson scored 16 points, Alex Heck added nine and nine rebounds, and Archbishop Wood defeated Lancaster Catholic to win a third straight Class 3A title.
The Lady Vikings (21-10) went home to Warminster with PIAA gold medals again despite having graduated seven players from last year's team, including all five starters.
Emily Martin scored 10 points for Lancaster Catholic (30-4), playing in its first title game since 1996.
The Crusaders, who scored 90 in the semifinals, were stifled by Archbishop Wood's extended halfcourt defense.
STATE COLLEGE — When Jeffery Chisholm arrived at Steelton-Highspire as an assistant coach in 2005, the Rollers had a hard time fielding a team.
Now, five years after taking over as head coach, Steel-High has won back-to-back PIAA titles.
Malia Tate-DeFreitas scored 18 points, Amber Hess-Moore added 17 and Steel High defeated Pittsburgh North Catholic to win another Class A crown — not bad for a team that's only been to the finals twice.
The Rollers' fortunes have changed dramatically since Chisolm's first year at Steel-High (28-3).
"We only had like six girls in the gym," he recalled Saturday about the 2005-6 season when the Rollers lost all 26 games. "The girls trying out for the team were volleyball players, softball players, cheerleaders."
The next year wasn't much better, when Steel-High finished 1-23.
Hess-Moore finished 5 of 7 from 3-point territory.