Pharaohs fall in national finals

Pharaohs fall in national finals
March 31
00:00 2016
Photo by Craig T. Greenlee
Pharaohs’ point guard Renathan Ona Embo excels at finishing plays around the basket in heavy traffic.



As things turned out, the second half of the Grind Session national championship game was more than Quality Education Academy could handle. The usually energetic Pharaohs could find no remedies to cope with fatigue and a well coached team with an exceptional point guard.

QEA’s championship hopes were laid to rest in a disappointing 82-74 loss to Victory Rock Prep (Fla.) in the final round played last Saturday in Lawrence, Kan. The Pharaohs finished the season at 27-6.

“I give Victory Rock all the credit,” said Coach Isaac Pitts of QEA. “This wasn’t a case of us beating ourselves. They beat us; they were the better team on that night.

Coming in, we felt like we could win it all, but we came up short. We’re just very thankful that we got the opportunity to play for a national championship. I want to express my sincere thanks to all the people who supported us throughout the season.”

QEA led 33-32 at the break. But the tables turned in Victory Rock’s favor in the final half. The primary problem for the Pharaohs was their inability to throw Loren Jackson Jr. off his game. Jackson, who has signed with Long Beach State (Calif.), played like an MVP with a game-high 27 points and 9 assists. The 5-9 point guard was 5-of-10 from the field, 4-of-6 from 3-point distance, and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.

“The point guard was the difference,” said Pitts. “We could not pressure him. He did a phenomenal job running his team.”

Dealing with Jackson wasn’t the only issue that plagued QEA. The Pharaohs had a lot less bounce in their step after winning their semifinal game against Sunrise Academy (Kan.) six hours earlier. The semifinal round and championship game were played on the same day.

“With us playing two games in one day, we sim-ply didn’t have our legs,” said Pitts. “As a result, we couldn’t attack and press like we normally do. We didn’t look anything like the QEA team that people had seen all season. In that second half, we looked like we were walking in quicksand.”

With the exception of senior forward Keith Stagg, the Pharaohs had a horrible shooting night. Stagg, who led all scorers with 28 points, closed the curtain on his high school career with his best offensive game of the season. He was 4-of-5 from the field and 6-of-8 on 3-pointers. The rest of the team shot 34 percent for the game.

Top scorer Deshawn Corprew had his worst output of the season with six points on 3-of-9 field goal shooting. Corprew did compensate to some degree with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Jaylan McGill contributed 10 points, but had an icy shooting touch from long distance (1-of-11 from 3-point range). Renathan Ona Embo added 9 points and 5 rebounds and Marsellis Purvis chipped in with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists.

“Our guys played a very good basketball team,” said Pitts. “They kept fighting and they never quit.”

In the semifinals, QEA got a huge lift from McGill, Embo and Purvis in a 73-67 win over Sunrise Academy. With Corprew (12 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals) commanding so much attention whenever he touched the basketball, those three provided all the offense the Pharaohs needed.

McGill hit all six of his 3-point attempts and finished with 20 points. Embo, who was a perfect 7-of-7 from field, added 15 points. Purvis contributed 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

For Sunrise, Bryan Trimble and Rashad Davis were the leading scorers with 11 and 10 points respectively.

QEA started its title run with a 74-69 victory over Athlete’s Institute (Canada) in the quarterfinals. Corprew turned in a solid night’s work with 15 points and 8 rebounds and he got ample assistance from his teammates. Purvis went 8-for-9 from the field and finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds. McGill and Stagg chipped in with 13 points apiece.

The Pharaohs turned in one of their best defensive performances against a team that features one of the nation’s most coveted major-college prospects. Even though Thon Maker, a 7-1 post player scored 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, he never dominated for lengthy stretches. For the game, he was only 3-of-13 from the field. Most of his point total came from beyond the arc (6-of-6 on 3-pointers).

Notes: The format for the Grind Session national championships was different from what teams experienced during the regular season. In high school games, teams play four quarters which are 8 minutes long. In this GS event, the college format was used. Games were played in two, 20-minute halves with a 30-second shot clock.

*QEA’s Corprew, who averaged 30 points per game during the regular season, was one of 12 players named to the All-Grind Session team. The players were chosen by coaches whose teams participated in the Grind Session this season.

*Corprew, who’s currently being pursued by a number of high-profile pro-grams such as UCLA, Texas, Texas A&M, Louisville and Kansas, is expected to announce his choice of schools in the coming weeks.

About Author

Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors