Thanks in large part to the second-half emergence of Malik Starkes, Math, Civics & Sciences Charter can finally lay claim to a victory over rival Imhotep Charter.
Tuesday, with Starkes producing all 14 of his points in the final 12 minutes, the Mighty Elephants, ending a five-game winless streak against the Panthers, triumphed, 53-50, before a standing-room-only crowd at the Berean Institute.
"We've never been able to beat them before this," Mighty Elephants coach Danny Jackson said. "Since 2007, they've had our number."
In the Public League Division A opener for both squads, Starkes, a junior combination guard, netted 10 consecutive points spanning the third and fourth quarters.
"I was being a slouch for most of the game," the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder said. "I was down on myself. It took some people getting in my ear for me to get motivated and be more aggressive."
Starkes drained a running three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer. At the start of the fourth period, his inside bucket, three-pointer, and driving layup put the Mighty Elephants in front, 47-38.
Math, Civics & Sciences, which came in ranked No. 6 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, improved to 5-0; No. 4 Imhotep, collecting 25 offensive rebounds and committing 21 turnovers, slipped to 4-1.
Jeremiah Worthem, a 6-6, 210-pound senior forward, chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds (four on offense), and three blocks for the Mighty Elephants.
"We had a lot of ups and downs last year," said Worthem, a Robert Morris recruit. "We want to show we're not that same team. We're ready to make a run at winning the Public League championship."
With one minute to go and MC&S nursing a 49-46 lead, Starkes finished a right-side drive with a monstrous dunk.
"He really came through when we needed him," Jackson said.
Brandon Austin, a 6-6 senior and Providence recruit, paced the Panthers with 19 rebounds (seven on offense), 14 points (11 in the second half), and three steals.
Imhotep Charter 7 13 18 12 – 50
Math, Civics & Sci. 12 9 19 13 – 53
IC: Abraham Massaley 14, Nigel Grant 2, Basil Thompson 3, Brandon Austin 14, Dymir Logan 2, Deryl Bagwell 6, Devin Liggeons 7, Deion Evans 2.
MCS: Britton Lee 11, Malik Starkes 14, Quadir Welton 4, Jeremiah Worthem 14, Shafeek Taylor 4, Tyrese Hester 4, Jeffon Powell 2.