Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
After sporting their opponent an early double-digit lead, Math, Civics & Sciences respond with a big run of their own in a 65-42 win over South Shore (N.Y.) in the second game of the VILLA Philly v. NY Classic at Arcadia University on Saturday.
It didn’t look like MCS would come away with an easy victory in the first four minutes, when South Shore forced a number of turnovers that led to a number of easy layups and free-throws. Led by UConn-bound guard Terrence Samuel and future Towson forward Shamiek Sheppard, the Vikings went on a 14-0 run to take a 16-4 lead, looking like they were ready to run the Mighty Elephants out of the building.
“Kind of shell-shocked coming out because we’ve been playing some opponents that haven’t really been up to our level and prepare us for these games,” MCS coach Dan Jackson told CoBL after the game. “We were just a little tentative and a little passive, and once they punched us we took the punch and punched back, and it worked out to our favor.”
MCS (4-0) responded with a 17-0 run of their own, part of a 26-2 stretch that lasted the rest of the half and gave the home team a 30-18 lead at the break. Their biggest issue early was with South Shore’s full-court press, but once they got that figured out it was all downhill.
“We prepared for the press all day yesterday in practice, but for some reason when they got out here they forgot what we were doing,” Jackson said. “So I had to call a couple of timeouts, settle them down, let them remember what we went over, let them remember that we were praticed for this, we were prepared for this, we just had to execute.”
Senior forward Jeremiah Worthem played a big role in that responding run, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the first half even though he was tasked with a tough matchup against Sheppard.
“I told (Worthem) that was his assignment,” Jackson said. “He took it on, he defended him very well, he got him erratic and out of control, and he did a lot of other things that made it happen for us.”
The star in this one was junior wing Malik Starkes, who had 18 points for the Mighty Elephants and was named team MVP after the game.
“He always shows up in these types of games,” Jackson said. “Last year, when we played Patterson, when we played Aquille Carr, he had about 31 points. He lives for these types of ball games.”
“I ain’t looking to score, it’s gonna come to me, because I play explosive regardless,” Starkes said. “I’m looking to be the best player I can be.”
A 6-foot-4, 190-pound G/F, Starkes nearly left MCS in the offseason but returns to a team that brought in a big amount of talent in senior transfers Shafeek Taylor (Roman Catholic) and Britton Lee (Roman Catholic) as well as junior guard Louis Myers (Southern). Add in Worthem and St. Peter’s-bound center Quadir Welton, and Starkes has had to adjust to being just one option on a loaded team.
“We got new players, so they’re not gonna let us down. We got a great bench that can be stars in any other city, or on any other team,” Starkes said. “I’m used to scoring, I like to score a lot, but…I gotta become a better player for college.”
“I’m becoming a better player, a better person. Last year it was street ball, and now we’re running plays.”
A tough, talented scorer, Starkes certainly has the talent to play at the mid or even high-major level, with a college-ready body and an aggressive mentality that will serve him well at the next level. Following the win, he was honest about why his recruiting hasn’t taken off like some of his peers.
“Last year, I had a rough year,” he admitted. “It ain’t even my talent, it’s just my attitude. Last year, it wasn’t even the little stuff, like pouting on the bench, stuff like that.”
“I ain’t trying to sound cocky, but I know I’m as good as anybody. It ain’t my talent, it’s my attitude. I’m getting better, though. Me talking trash on the court motivates me, makes me play harder, so now I need to learn how to fight against it and just get hype on the court.”
If Starkes can continue that maturation process, he could certainly be an impact player at the next level.