Austin Shines as Imhotep Wins

The Penn State commit led his high school team to a second-straight PIAA AA championship. He beat Beaver Falls and PSU target Sheldon Jeter in the final.

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 AA 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.

The game was played in the Jordan Center, on Penn State's home floor with Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers watching from just off to the side of the Imhotep bench.

But Saturday was all about a PIAA title.

Jeter was 10 of 32 in shooting, including 0 for 10 from 3-point territory, and he hit the first bucket in overtime to give the Tigers a 50-48 advantage.

They never led again.

Jeter missed a couple of 3s over the next couple of minutes, while Imhotep raced past the Tigers in transition. Austin scored two straight buckets, the second on a dunk coming off a steal, to give the Panthers the lead for good, 52-50 with 1:58 remaining.

"It's something I'll always remember. I always look to those challenges," Jeter said about the matchup with Austin. "At the end of the game, he made more plays than I did. That's why we lost ... I couldn't get it done."

But missed foul shots still kept Beaver Falls in it. Imhotep was 8 of 18 from the line for the afternoon and hit just 2 of 6 from the line over the final 30 seconds, including Austin's two misses.

"It's been this all year with these tight games, and are we going to win or lose," Noble said. "Even when they're down, they don't get rattled."

Beaver Falls nearly went home with the gold after a 10-0 run from a nine-point deficit with 5:15 left in regulation to take a 45-44 lead on Jeter's baseline number with 2:22 left.

"BF! BF," their loud, large contingent of orange-clad fans yelled from the stands down the stretch.

They went up by two with 46 seconds left on Deyne Richardson's 3-point play, but Shakur Nesmith stole a Beaver Falls inbounds pass underneath his own basket and went in for a layup to tie the game at 48 with 19 seconds left.

The Tigers trailed by as much as 10 early, but rallied in the second quarter after turning up the defensive pressure and taking advantage of Imhotep while Austin was on the bench with two fouls.

"These kids are all heart, they really are," coach Doug Biega said. "I'm really proud of them."

Afterward, Jeter said he would take two more official visits before deciding where to go to college, though he said he could "see himself" playing with Austin.

He's got one more season of high school, though Austin said he's hoping Jeter joins him in Happy Valley.

"I said come to PSU, and he said, 'He's going to see me up here,'" Austin said, "so look out for that."

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