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Southern's Wilson puts 'Bert-in' on E&S

La'Trelle Wilson, whose nickname is dervived from 'Sesame Street' character, had 15 points and seven steals in win.

Southern’s La’Trelle Wilson drives on E&S’s Johnathan Hall in second quarter.
Southern’s La’Trelle Wilson drives on E&S’s Johnathan Hall in second quarter.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

IF YOU SAW La'Trelle Wilson play basketball, the last things to enter your mind would be soft, decorated pieces of orange and yellow felt.

The 6-0, 185-pound Southern High guard uses strength, physicality and intensity as a defensive disruptor for the Rams.

So, why in the world is his nickname Bert?

"My head is shaped like Bert and Ernie of 'Sesame Street,' " Wilson said, laughing, after the Rams ran over host Engineering and Science, 49-37, in a Public League B matchup.

The nickname is courtesy of his aunt, Michelle Kemp, who dubbed him thusly just after his birth.

However, there is nothing warm and fuzzy about the way the Brooklyn native plays the game.

Not only did he score a team-high 15 points, Wilson also pilfered seven steals and led a defense that forced 27 turnovers.

"If the ball is in my reach, within 4 or 5 feet, I will get the steal if you're not controlling the ball," Wilson said. "If you're dribbling the ball, I'll count and I'll study your hand, the bounces, the steps and then I'll get it. I'll dive on the floor; I'll do anything to get the ball. Put my blood, sweat and tears on this floor."

In fact, it's that type of relentlessly aggressive style that has earned him another moniker, or technically, a hybrid of the original with a hint of NBA star LeBron James mixed in.

"My coaches and teammates say when I go to the basket nobody can stop me so they call me, 'LeBert James,' " Wilson laughed again.

Jokes aside, Wilson, who said his family relocated from Brooklyn so he could escape the city's gang life, hopes to earn another title come June.

"I want to be the first one in my immediate family to graduate from high school and do something," said Wilson, who has been in Philly since sixth grade.

"My little brothers and sisters, I want them to see that you can prove statistics wrong, no matter what you do. You can play ball, you can play the violin or you can be the smartest [in school]. You can just make it out of the struggle. I'm trying to get them our right now."

To that end, Wilson said his last report card read all B's, which he said put him on the school's honor roll. Some Division III college eyes have wandered his way, but he and his teammates still have work to do.

"It means a lot," Wilson said of the win. "We're trying to climb our way back from the losses we maybe should have won . . . so today was a big one. We're trying to aim higher and make a name for ourselves."

Junior point guard Kahssian Kay scored 13 points and added three apiece of assists and steals for the Rams (3-2). Senior forward Marvin Bell had eight points and collected four rebounds.

The Engineers (0-4) were led by Shaquan Frazier's 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting and 2-for-3 from three. Fellow senior Johnathan Hall dominated down low for eight points, nine rebounds and four blocks in the first half, but went long stretches without shot attempts in the second. Hall still finished with 11 points, 12 off the glass and five rejections.

However, Wilson, who splits time between his mother, Catrina Wilson, and stepfather, Michael Lewis, was too much.

"I started playing basketball because there was nothing to do when I moved here and I had to keep off the streets," he said. "I'm trying to go to college so bad. A lot of people are depending on me."

Later, he added: "My mom is my No. 1 fan."

"My mom said [moving here] was for the best. She didn't want me to be like the rest of my familu . . . and my family kept me out of trouble, even though I was thinking maybe I could gang bang. They showed me that I could be better than that."