WEXFORD, Pa. – WPIAL champion Imani Christian was as advertised, knocking off D10 champ Farrell, 80-50 in the PIAA Class 1A boys’ quarterfinals.
The Steelers, after trailing 21-4 in the first quarter, battled back and got the score as close as 10, 39-29, after a Malachi Owens bucket to start the third quarter.
Imani’s R.J. Sledge, however, responded with nine-straight points, part of a 29-point effort that helped Imani pull away for good.
“All year long we’ve started off slow,” said Farrell coach Myron Lowe. “In the second half we came out and got that bucket and cut it to 10 and I thought we were about to turn things around, but we couldn’t get back.”
Sledge’s spurt was part of an overall 15-6 run that made it 54-35, and the Saints never looked back.
Alier Maluk, a 6-10 sophomore ranked as one of the top sophomores in the country by every major recruiting service, had eight blocks, and along with 6-8 Virgil Hall, made it difficult for Farrell to operate in the half court.
“Their size caused a lot of turnovers,” Lowe said.
Farrell rallied from the early 17-point deficit to whittle the lead down to 12 by halftime. The Steelers offense got going thanks to freshman Danny Odem, who had eight early points
But it was just too much Imani.
Hall scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half, one of five Saints in double figures, as Avery Wesley added 12 and Maluek and Dame Givner 10 each.
Things got a little chippy toward the end of the third quarter, as Owens got fouled hard going to the bucket and words were exchanged between the teams.
The Saints were given an intentional foul and the Steelers a technical.
The 30-point margin of victory was the largest lead of the game for Imani.
Lamont Samuels came off the bench to lead Farrell with 12 points, while Odem was also in double figures with 11 and Kylon Wilson and Owens had seven each.
Union beat Carlynton, 73-57, setting up a rematch of the WPIAL title game.
Union coach Mark Stanley was critical of Imani after the WPIAL title game loss, citing the Saints’ ability to bring in transfers as part of a public vs. private school debate.
For Farrell, their season ends with a District 10 title and a pair of state playoff wins.
“Those seven seniors are special,” said Lowe of his group. “Next year, we’ll have Kabron Smith (who was hurt early in the season) back, and a couple of freshmen coming in, too.”
PIAA 1A QUARTERFINAL
FARRELL 12 15 15 8 – 50
IMANI CHRISTIAN 24 15 21 20 – 80
FARRELL – 50
Khanye Matthews 1 0-0 2, Malachi Owens 3 1-5 7, Lamont Samuels 4 4-7-12, Juelez Johnson 0 0-0 0, Kylon Wilson 3 1-2 7, Nasir O’Kane 2 1-3 6, Danny Odem 5 1-5 11, Dontaye Bell 1 2-2 5, Totals 19 10-22 50
IMANI CHRISTIAN – 80
R.J. Sledge 10 6-10 29, Avery Wesley 5 0-0 12, Dame Givner 4 2-5 10, Alier Malujk 5 0-0 10, Virgil Hill 9 0-0 19, Markus Williams 0 0-0 0, Deston Hubbard 0 0-0 0, Totals 33 8-15 80
Three-pointers: Farrell – 2 (O’Kane, Bell); Imani Christian 6 (Sledge 3, Wesley 2, Hall)