Imani Christian Wins Class-1A WPIAL Title With Win Against Union 64-41
PITTSBURGH — After losing to the Union Area Scotties in last year’s semi-final matchup, the Imani Christian Saints avenged the loss on the biggest stage, the Class-1A Championship. The Saints opened the championship festivities at the Petersen Events Center as they beat Union 64-41.
“It’s a lot of motivation and hats off to Union,” said Imani head coach Omar Foster. “We prepared our year for them. We believed that they were going to be the [No. 2 seed] and that we were going to be the one. It’s always good motivation when you got somewhat of a rivalry.”
The Saints’ season may have ended with a WPIAL title, but the start of the season was rough for Imani. The Saints started the season 1-4 but this did not stop the boys from growing.
“[This] is what we deserve. We have been working so hard day in and day out for a very long time,” said Virgil Hall. “I think that this is only a stepping stone to our ultimate goal. This was one of our goals [but] our ultimate goal is to be state champs.”
Coach Foster added that the early season struggles caused the team to grow closer and pushed them to be better.
“Trials and tribulations build character and we felt like those losses helped build us. We probably needed those losses [because] it gives you a little bit of humility and made us humble. It also made us hungry because we knew that we were not playing our best basketball but it built us for this moment, for us to be having this,” said coach Foster while holding the first-place medal.
Entering the night, the Saints owned the highest-scoring offense in Class-1A and looked to get out fast and run with pace in the championship bout. To some people’s surprise, the Scotties were able to match the Saints’ speed and energy fairly well in the first half.
Imani entered halftime with only a 4-point advantage.
When the Saints got to the locker room for the halftime intermission, head coach Omar Foster said that he yelled at his kids because he knew that the lead should have been larger by that time.
“I yelled at them in the locker room that we needed to get our things together. We were just playing a little tight and a little shaky. Our identity is defense and we feel that if we play really good defense that we will go on 17-0 runs,” said coach Foster.
The Scotties looked to pounce on the fact that they were still in striking distance and opened the third quarter with back-to-back threes by Lucas Stanley. This quick outburst gave the Scotties a 29-27 lead.
After the 6-0 run by the Scotties, the Saints found their groove on offense as they finished the quarter on a 20-2 run, including 16 straight points. Imani entered the final frame with their largest lead of the night, 45-31.
The Scotties were not able to mount the comeback in the fourth as the Saints’ size and scoring ability finally snatched the advantage.
Matthew Stanley scored a team-high 19 points for the Scotties in the loss. His brother, Lucas, was the only other Scottie to finish in double-digits as he scored 15 points. Only three other Scotties managed to score in the entire game despite 11 players recording minutes.
“We focused on all of them but we were able to play good defense on the other three so it helped us a lot,” said Foster.
Union was held to a staggering 23.5% shooting night from the field. In comparison, the Saints finished with a shooting percentage of 58.8%. Imani also dominated the boards as they finished with a +18 advantage, including a team-high ten rebounds by Alier Maluk.
Dame Givner’s game-high 17-point performance paced the Saints. Givner also added seven rebounds and a team-high four assists. RJ Sledge and Hall each added another 11 points for Imani.
Imani delivered this dominant performance despite a quiet five-point game by one of the most-touted players in the class of 2025, Alier Maluk.
The Saints are now the Class-1A champions and will turn their attention to their “ultimate goal,” a state championship.