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City, Suburbs split All-Star Labor Classic

The City girls and the Suburbs boys prevailed in the annual doubleheader.

BRANDON COLE knows only one way to play basketball. No matter what, he goes hard.

It doesn't even matter if the 6-4 forward from West Catholic Prep is playing in an all-star game.

With Cole's City compatriots trailing by 10 with only seconds remaining at yesterday's 28th Annual All-Star Labor Classic, the Suburbs attempted a cherry-on-top alley-oop.

That was when Cole flew in and broke up Amir Hinton's dunk attempt with a foul from behind. The play didn't appear dirty or dangerous, but it was certainly unexpected. There was no hint of tension after the play. Instead, both teams simply walked to the foul line.

"That last play was not intentional," Cole said, smiling. "I just couldn't let them get that dunk. I already saw the clock, and we were down by 10, so I said, 'Nah, they can't finish the game that way! They have to finish with a miss or something.' "

Led by 16 points from Penn Wood's Malik Jackson, the Suburbs prevailed, 74-62, at a packed gym inside New Foundations Charter in Northeast Philadelphia.

Cole, a Nicetown resident, hopes his 11-point performance garnered attention from the college coaches in attendance.

"It was very competitive," Cole said. "You have to come with a competitive mindset because everybody wants to get looks from colleges."

Cole, who transferred from Math, Civics and Sciences Charter after his freshman year, learned toughness was his way onto the court.

"Growing up, I was never the best player on the team so I had to always work harder than everybody and show coaches that I deserved to be on the floor," he said. "I had to show them I could play."

If he can't persuade college coaches, Cole already has a backup plan.

"I want to be a chef," he said. "I found that passion in a class at West Catholic. Every day, I just felt happy in there, like this is where I need to be. A calling from God, I guess."

To that end, Cole has worked weekends at a catering company for the last 2 months. And chances are, anything he hasn't learned on the job, he has already picked up at home.

"I learned most of my skills from watching my mother," he said. "She bakes a lot of chicken, pasta, and a lot of fish, too."

In the girls' game, Neumann-Goretti's A.J. Timbers led all scorers with 16 points in the City's 66-49 victory. Late in the second half, a fight involving several individuals broke out in the parking lot, just outside the school's entrance. It was not immediately clear what started it. Police were called, and the combatants - male and female - dispersed before officers arrived.