MLK Cougars advance to Sunday’s Public League hoops-title game

The last thing that a basketball team needs, when trailing by double digits as time’s running out, is to lose its two leading scorers to fouls and No. 3 to injury.

But that’s exactly what happened to the Math, Civics and Science Charter Elephants in Tuesday night’s Public League semifinal game against the MLK High Cougars.

With a 75-56 landslide win, the Cougars can now do something not before accomplished in school history: Win the Public League title in football and basketball in the same academic year.

Spurred on by the firey effort of junior guard Sammy Foreman — who just happened to play on the team that ended King’s run in last season’s semis — the Cougars will face the Constitution High Generals at the Liacouras Center, 3 p.m. Sunday, for the Public League title.

Game stats

Matching the 17-point total of Foreman, who transferred from Vaux High which closed last year, was sophomore Jabri McCall.

The pair totaled 21 second-half points, which helped cement a win after junior forward Chase Rodgers’ 12 first-half points carried the Cougars into halftime with a six-point lead.

The Cougars extended that lead to 10 at the end of the third quarter.

A decisive fourth quarter

From there, everything fell King’s way, even before Elephants junior guard Samir Doughty fouled out with 24 points (nine from the line).

Junior forward Mike Watkins, who scored nine, would soon join Doughty on the bench, victim of a similar five-foul fate. Sophomore forward Terquin Mott was then helped off the court with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. He’d scored eight.

From there, King piled on the points, their fourth-quarter push punctuated by forward Brandon McNair’s alley-oop dunk.

After the game, MLK High Principal William Wade acknowledged how hoops success has drawn the attention of poachers to his head coach, Sean Colson.

He also noted that the dual Public League titles would be nice, but not enough.

“I hope people will celebrate the Keystone Assessments in May,” he said. “That’s what’s important. I mean that.”

The back story

The Cougars are building off a season which saw them lose in the Public League semis to Vaux High. When that school closed, Foreman had to find a new school. Wade had once been principal.

The team was led by Rysheed Jordan, who is in the midst of a two-week Big East Rookie of the Week reign at St. John’s. Foreman has stepped up from a supporting role.

After that overtime game on the same South Philly court last year, Vaux would go on to lose to Imhotep in the 2013 PL title game, despite scoring an astounding 45 points from Jordan.

Last weekend, the highly touted Imhotep was upset by Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter, the team which Constitution defeated 69-65 for a chance to face MLK in Sunday’s finals.

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