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Fels pulls out a win over Bracetti

No. 11 for Samuel Fels High's basketball team totaled 19 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. So did No. 31.

No. 11 for Samuel Fels High's basketball team totaled 19 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. So did No. 31.

What are the chances? . . . Pretty darn good when those guys are one and the same.

Two minutes, 47 seconds before halftime of Wednesday morning's nonleague game against visiting Mariana Bracetti (charter) Academy, Rahamon "TJ" Scott needed to switch jerseys after his No. 11 wound up being speckled with blood.

"I made that layup and banged right into my teammate, Jordan [Grant]," Scott said. "His teeth went into my forehead. I didn't know there was blood until I used my shirt to wipe my face."

As Scott spoke, Grant sat nearby.

Did the forehead taste good?

"Nah, that stuff was nasty," he cracked.

When the game, originally scheduled for 3 p.m. at Bracetti, tipped off at 10:30, 12 people were in the stands. Eventually, that number swelled to 20 (three young kids included), and the players were able to leave behind their groggy ways and provide some entertainment.

Fels went from comfortable to threatened to comfortable and threatened again, then managed to triumph, 60-54.

Afterward, perhaps someone said to Scott, "Good game, mon."

Scott, who retains no accent, said he lived in St. Mary, Jamaica, through the fourth grade and then spent several years in New York City before moving to Philadelphia with his mother, Candice Bariffe. He barely touched a basketball before age 13.

"Not too many people play it over there," he said. "I was into soccer. Even some cricket. I kind of fell away from soccer over here, and when I tried to play again, I wasn't that good anymore. I liked basketball right away and decided I wanted to do that. I get a kick out of it."

Scott said his grandmother, Eileen Cox, who remains in NYC, was the family member who fueled the move to America.

"She made it seem like everything would be better over here," he noted.

Is it?

"Somewhat," he said, laughing. "There's stuff I miss; my father still lives over there. And the weather. It gets cold here."

Scott, who shot 3-for-6 on three-pointers, mostly operated on the wings and baseline. He showed a take-charge demeanor and worked well with handyman Nijay Kelly (13 points, four assists, ridiculous late dunk off an alley-oop), a first-team All-City football receiver.

A year ago, some would have predicted a disappearing act for Scott. Now, he's a captain.

"It's really satisfying," coach Mark Heimerdinger said, "when you have a kid on the fence and he sees the light and makes the necessary changes."

Said Scott: "I used to have an anger problem. Mostly at refs. Coach told me getting mad about things wasn't going to take me very far in life. I worked over the summer on changing my ways."

Now, he added, his primary hoops focus is "getting better at decision-making in critical points of the game."

Scott and Kelly were the only Panthers to score in double figures, while Lester Mattox (six) and Kyree Westbrooks (five) helped on the boards; James Cottrell scored all seven of his points after halftime. With 2:40 left in the game, Mattox' No. 22 got bloody and he switched to No. 32.

For Bracetti, guards Shaquille Ellison (24), Jorge Quinones (14, four treys) and Malik Jackson-Wallace (13) combined for all but three of the points.

Scott, who lives on G near Wyoming, hopes to earn college attention. Long-range, would he rather reside here or back in Jamaica?

"Here," he said. Pause. "Or Italy."

Why Italy?

"I love Italian food."