Franklin Regional hangs tough but falls short in PIAA title game

The Panthers gave perennial power Imhotep Charter all it could handle Friday

Sat Mar 23, 2024 - 12:11AM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Sat Mar 23, 2024 - 11:18PM

Already the heavy underdogs entering Friday night’s contest, the Franklin Regional Panthers fell into an 8-0 deficit to two-time defending champion Imhotep Institute Charter less than three minutes into the PIAA Class 5A Championship. True to their resolve that they displayed all season, the Franklin Regional Panthers overcame the sluggish start, pulling even later in the first half. In the end, though, nationally-ranked Imhotep proved too much, besting Franklin Regional 59-48 at the GIANT Center in Hershey to claim its third consecutive state title and 10th in program history.

In a battle of the Panthers, Franklin Regional (27-4) was denied its first state gold in its second appearance, joining the 1997 squad that fell to Plymouth Whitemarsh.

Keyed by the strong start, Imhotep (29-3) never trailed in the contest, and UConn signee Ahmad Nowell led the way. Nowell, a top 50 player in the senior class, poured in a game-high 20 points and snagged six rebounds for Imhotep. He was joined in double figures scoring by Makye Taylor, who scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds off the bench.


A hot-shooting start keyed Imhotep to a 17-13 lead after the first quarter, but Franklin Regional surged in the early portion of the second quarter to deadlock the score at 19-19 on a jumper by Cooper Rankin. However, Imhotep asserted its dominance on the glass for the rest of the half, generating 10 more shot attempts than FR in the frame. As a result, Imhotep finished the stanza with a 14-2 run that included a controversial layup that appeared to come after the buzzer.

Franklin Regional trimmed its deficit in the third quarter, limiting Imhotep to just eight points in the period. A dunk by Cam Rowell in transition punctuated the strong quarter for FR, which trailed 41-33.

The FR comeback bid fell short, however, as Imhotep outscored Franklin Regional 18-15 in the fourth to seal the victory.

In defeat, Franklin Regional was paced by Rowell, who scored 15 points. Fin Hutchison netted nine points and four assists, Colin Masten posted eight points and seven rebounds, and Rankin produced six points before fouling out.