Bonner-Prendergast coach Kevin Funston says he sometimes has to encourage senior guard Oscar Uduma to shoot the basketball.
Thursday night was not one of those times.
Uduma, a football standout who specializes in dirty work and defense on the basketball court, made a trio of three-pointers in the fourth quarter to power Bonner-Prendergast to a 64-58 victory over Imhotep Charter in the District 12, Class 4A city title game.
Uduma scored 10 of his 12 points in the final eight minutes for Bonner-Prendergast (18-5), which won its third straight city title and advanced to the PIAA Class 4 tournament as District 12’s No. 1 seed.
Senior guards Donovan Rodriguez (16 points) and Tyreese Watson (14) and junior guard Malik Edwards (16) also scored in double figures for the Friars before a large crowd in the La Salle College High gymnasium.
Bonner-Prendergast will meet the No. 5 seed from District 3 in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament, which begins March 6.
And in the distance for the Friars is the possibility of a rematch with the Panthers, since the teams met twice last season, with the Catholic League squad capturing the city title and the Public League club earning the state title three weeks later.
“This was a statement game because they beat us last year at Hershey,” Uduma said. “We might see them again and we might have to beat them again.”
Senior forward Elijah Taylor, a Notre Dame recruit, scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half and also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots for Imhotep Charter (19-8), which will face District 3’s No. 3 seed in the first round of the state tournament.
“He’s a beast,” Funston said of Taylor, whose fiery play rallied the Panthers from a 32-25 halftime deficit.
It was a good night for some of the Friars’ less heralded players, as Uduma scored the key points in the fourth quarter and 6-foot-8 junior Gestin Liberis bounced off the bench to provide some inside presence at the defensive end against Taylor as well as Imhotep Charter’s 6-7 senior Kamrohn Rountree (12 points, five rebounds).
Uduma was 3-for-3 from distance in the fourth quarter, with each shot pushing the Friars a little further in front. The first made it 48-43, the second made it 53-47 and the third made it 56-47 with two minutes, 30 seconds on the clock, allowing the Friars to spread the floor, work the clock and finish things from the foul line.
“Huge shots,” Funston said of Uduma’s work from beyond the arc.
The 6-2 Uduma, who was a standout two-way end for the football team that won the Catholic League Class 4A title, prides himself on his defense, rebounding and willingness to scrap for loose balls.
Funston says that Uduma has become such a dedicated role player that he sometimes is reluctant to assert himself at the offensive end.
“We have faith in him,” Watson said of Uduma. “He can shoot the ball.”
Uduma said he never hesitated to shoot despite the magnitude of the moment.
“They were leaving me open,” Uduma said. “I had to let it fly. I’m not going to let down my team.”
The game was Bonner-Prendergast’s first since a 61-59 loss to Roman Catholic on Feb. 14 on a buzzer-beater in the Catholic League quarterfinals. Now the Friars have a seven-day wait before the start of the state tournament.
“These guys will be ready — we have unfinished business,” Funston said.
Last season, Bonner-Prendergast beat Imhotep Charter 59-57 in overtime in the District 12 title game. Three weeks later, Imhotep Charter turned the tables with a 67-56 victory in the state final at Hershey.
Funston figures the teams might toss it up again before the end of this season.
“That’s what I said in the handshake line, ‘I’m pretty sure I’ll see you soon,’” Funston said.
Imhotep Charter15 10 17 16 – 58
Bonner-Prendergast 21 11 12 20 – 64
IC: Naji Reid 1, Rahmir Barno 12, Justin Edwards 6, Elijah Taylor 17, Kamrohn Roundtree 12, Enai White 3, Sammi Wylie 7.