Game number four at the Boys’ Basketball Winter Showcase hosted by Mount Pleasant High School was between the St. Mark’s Spartans and the West Philadelphia High School Speedboys. St. Marks, who came in the contest touting a 4-0 record in state, started the game in a 3-2 full court zone press which proved to give West Philly some difficulty, causing two turnovers in their first 3 possessions of the game. The Spartans took an early 6-0 lead on back to back 3’s in the first minute. The 1-6 West Philly squad would only put 6 points on the board in the first quarter as St. Mark’s patient half-court offense ate up the clock and provided good looks at the basket, getting them out to a 16-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Spartans changed it up at the beginning of the 2nd quarter coming out in an extended 2-3 zone. The Speedboys continued to struggle, missing layups and making questionable decisions, moving too fast and settling for off balance shots. However, West Philly showed some toughness of their own on the defensive end, forcing St. Mark’s to work hard for their shots in the 2nd quarter. The Spartans went into launch mode against the Speedboys’ zone, throwing up double digit 3- point shots without sinking one. The quarter ended 22-12 with the Spartans maintaining their 10-point lead headed into halftime.
The Speedboys came out of the locker room at the beginning of the 3rd quarter and knocked down 2 quick 3-point shots but Spartans answered with 2 threes of their own making the score 30-20 at the 5:27 mark. Both teams tried to push the pace, attacking the basket at every opportunity as the energy level in the gym intensified. West Philly’s success came in large part to their 1-3-1 half court zone that proved to speed up the Spartans in the half court along with earning them better looks at the basket at the offensive end. With 1:06 to go in the 3rd, West Philly pulled within 3 points, forcing the Spartans into poor decisions with their 1-3-1 zone, trapping the corners. 39-34 at the end of the third.
The West Philly zone continued to cause problems for the Spartans early in the 4th quarter but the hard work of Chris Taylor kept St. Mark’s one step ahead. With 1:38 to go in the game, Taylor had yet to take an offensive or defensive possession off. His relentless energy and ability to attack the boards proved to be the catalyst the Spartans needed to move to 5-0 on the season. The aforementioned Chris Taylor for the Spartans finished with a loud 16 points along with his teammate Alassan N’diaye who dropped 17 points in the win. St Marks will play at Red Lion on Tuesday before heading to Florida for 3 games over the holiday break.
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