AHMAD "J.R." GILBERT wasn't ready for his high school career to be over. The 6-7 senior for Constitution High just wouldn't let it end.
He's been with the Generals since his freshman year. In a time when transfers abound throughout the city, Gilbert has grown with this group of teammates and coaches.
In particular, Gilbert grew close to Constitution assistant coach Fran Hamilton, who died last year.
And with a stellar performance in the Generals' 87-46 decimation of Math, Civics and Sciences Charter in the Class A semifinals, Gilbert will have one last game with his basketball family.
"This could have been my last game of the season, my last game in Philly, my last game with Coach Rob [Moore]," he said. "Most importantly, through this whole season, Fran's been in my head a lot. He's the one who built me. He worked me out in the summer and worked me out when it was snowing. He took me everywhere and took me to a lot of college visits. I'm not gonna cry right now, but I really miss him. He played a big role in my life. I just wish he was here to live it with us again."
Last night at Philadelphia University, Gilbert finished with 31 points on 13-for-14 shooting from the field. He added four blocked shots and two steals.
Seniors Chad Andrews-Fulton and Kimar Williams also contributed heavily. Williams scored 13 points and added five assists while Andrews-Fulton coupled 16 points with 12 rebounds.
Samir Doughty had 15 for the Mighty Elephants.
Constitution will face District 10 Farrell on Friday for the Class A state title.
"With this group of guys," Gilbert said, "there wouldn't be a better way to go out than to win one more time. This is our last game of the season, our last game with each other, our last time on the court. This could be our last time seeing each other . . . I just want this win to be the most important one of my life."