MCS suffocates Bartram to remain undefeated

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Malik Starkes had 11 points in MCS’ win over Bartram on Thursday. (Photo: Josh Verlin)

Jeff McDevitt (@JeffMcDev)

Math, Civics, and Sciences Charter School, led by their trio of Division-I bound seniors, took over in the second half to remain undefeated, defeating Bartram 78-55.

Jeremiah Worthem led MCS (12-0, 5-0 Public League) with 19 points and five rebounds, while his future college teammate at Robert Morris Britton Lee chipped in 16.  Junior Malik Starkes was the only other Mighty Elephant in double figures with 11 points.

The Bartram Braves (9-5, 2-2 Public League) were lead by their sharpshooting backcourt duo of Malik Noel with 14 points and Khayri Washington with 13. Like many other backcourts in the Public League, Noel and Washington struggled to break MCS’ press all afternoon, which lead to seven first quarter turnovers for Bartram, and 19 for the game.

Bartram held pace with MCS in the first half, going into half down only two points 29-27. In the second half the Mighty Elephants of MCS took over, winning the third quarter 29-10 and never looking back.

“It’s been hard for us all season,” MCS Coach Dan Jackson told CoBL. “Teams are going to play their best against us. We have no losses right now, so we have an arrow on our back and if we don’t come out here and compete at a high level. We’re going to find games like this to be a hard one.”

“Our goal in the second half was to just pace ourselves, in the first half we were playing street ball,” Starkes said.  “We needed to penetrate the paint and find the open man. The first half we came out real sluggish.

“We were moving too fast,” Bartram’s Michael Walkins said. “If we had been able to slow the ball down we could’ve kept it neck-and-neck, but we tried  to play fast with them.”

MCS plays their home games at the Berean Institute at 20th and Girard Avenue. With athletic big men in Jeremiah Worthem and the St. Peter’s bound Quadir Welton, along with guards Lee, Starkes and Shafeek Taylor, MCS can really shrink the court and suffocate teams into submission by full court trapping other teams. It’s one of the biggest home court advantages in the city of Philadelphia.

”This is our sixth man, our gym,” coach Jackson said. “A lot of big games we’ve had this year a lot of people asked us to move them because of the capacity, I have refused to move them because the way the floor is shaped, the size of our team and the atmosphere, it helps us out tremendously.”

“When people walk in here, we already have players that are big, I don’t want to say it makes them scared, but it lets them know that they have to play well,” Starks said about playing at Berean.

Jackson was saddled with what most coaches would consider a good problem at the beginning of the year as two talented players, Lee and Taylor, transferred from Roman Catholic to MCS. With a record of 13-0, it would seem this experiment of integrating two new players into the starting lineup has worked.

“We’ve been gelling all year, that’s not a thing I’ve had a issue with. Of course some guys want to play more, but the end result is wins, so I think the chemistry is coming together well,” Jackson said.

Starkes, an explosive 6-4 junior guard, has been dunking on bigger players all year. His aggressiveness and tenacity coupled with a solid jump shot has some big time programs taking a look at him.

“UConn is my main one,” Starkes said about his recruiting. He said he has spoken with new Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie and that is the school he most wants to play at. Starkes also mentioned DePaul as a school that has shown interest in his duties.

Another player drawing some D-I interest that was on the floor Tuesday was Bartram’s 6-7 forward Michael Walkins. Walkins blocked many shots (at least four) and scored 10 points, including an athletic tip dunk that drew some oohs and aahs from the crowd. Walkins offensive game and hands could use some work, and he needs to put on some weight, but his shot blocking ability and athleticism clearly there. He claimed interest from some Division-I teams including Drexel.

MCS will look to stay undefeated in the Public League as they take on Simon Gratz Saturday at 2:30.

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