BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A fractured left hand three games into the regular season turned Imhotep Charter senior captain Devin Liggeons from participant to spectator.
"It's such a hard thing to go through, especially when it's your last year of high school," the 6-foot-3, 180-pound wing guard said. "You do your best to be patient with the process, but you really want to be out there."
Liggeons has returned for the team's stretch run, and Andre Noble couldn't be happier to have No. 24 back on the hardwood. "It was real hard going without him for that long," the Panthers coach said.
Tuesday night at Bethlehem Freedom, with Liggeons producing 15 points and eight rebounds, Imhotep turned up the defensive heat and clobbered Scranton Prep, 77-54, in a fast-paced PIAA Class AAA second-round matchup.
"We did a good job of getting up on them, pressuring them," said Liggeons, who will continue his career at Wagner. "I don't think they were fully prepared for it."
A lot of hoops enthusiasts had expected the District 2 champs, who gave Roman Catholic a scare in a January showcase game before running out of gas in the late going, to seriously challenge Liggeons and company.
"We knew some had picked against us," Liggeons said. "We don't mind being the underdog. It gives us an extra push to play our best."
Imhotep (21-9) will take on District 3's Susquehanna Township (22-6) on Friday night in a quarterfinal at a neutral site and time to be determined. The Indians advanced with a 44-37 win over District 11 champion Pottsville.
Against the Cavaliers, who came in averaging 77.1 points per game, the Panthers denied sharp-shooting senior guards Bobby Casey (17.0 ppg.) and Tim Rose (14.4) major success from the perimeter.
Jaekwon Carlyle (seven assists) mostly guarded Casey (11 points), while Daron Russell shadowed Rose (19). "I thought Jaekwon did a phenomenal job on No. 3 [Casey] most of the game," Noble said. "He didn't give him much breathing room."
Russell, a sophomore, shot 13 for 15 from the line en route to 25 points. He added nine assists, three steals, and two boards.
"He's obviously a great talent," Noble said. "The thing about Daron is, he really wants to win."
Off the bench for the Panthers, Jaquan Arrington, a 6-4 sophomore, chipped in eight points. "He rebounded, made some baskets, was all over the place defensively," Noble said.
Imhotep Charter 17 22 15 23 - 77
Scranton Prep 11 18 9 16 - 54
IC: Daron Russell 25, Jaekwon Carlyle 4, DeAnte Robinson 6, Devin Liggeons 15, Khalief Tinley 6, Whyeem Lowman 2, Cananchet Jordan 5, Nysir Marshburn 6, Jaquan Arrington 8.