Ballers look for new leaders at tough season’s end

Tyler Seward’ 21 shoots free throw against Penn Charter – photo by Dr. Mike Nance

As students, family, friends, and fans cheer from the bleachers of McBride Court, Fourth Form starter Jameel Brown sits on the bench with a black brace covering his forearm.

     Injuries have plagued the team. In addition to Brown, Sixth Former Scott Burke recently sat out after injuring his hip. 

     The team’s record of 7-12-2 includes wins against some impressive basketball programs like The George School, The Hill School, and Phelps School. The team has also suffered some tough losses to many Inter-Ac schools, including Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Germantown Academy.

     But the season is not over.

     “Our record is 6-12, and we have about eight games left, so we could still have a winning record by the end of the season,” Fourth Former Isaiah Boyd said last week.

     Players are looking to rally together and close the season strong. Having graduated the majority of its core players from last season, the team has to live up to the expectations set by last season’s success. Some fans, such as Sixth Former Mathenge Mwangi, feel that this has also affected the energy at the games.

     “People still come out to the games of course, but I don’t think they’re as interested as last year. I think a lot of people just go because it’s a Friday night and they’re looking for something to do,” Mwangi said.

Sixth Form fans cheer on the team while in beach-wear theme – photo by Dr. Mike Nance

     The team may not be as much of a powerhouse as last season, but the players have not lost hope and are eager to play more. Boyd currently plays as a starter for the junior varsity team but hopes to get more minutes in the varsity games.

     “I’ve been working hard at practice and playing with the varsity players at practice,” Boyd said. “So I feel like I’m going to get more time soon. They’ve moved me up the last two games, so I don’t know why that would stop.”

     Motivation like Boyd’s will hopefully show itself in the season’s last few games.

     “We have [fewer] leaders,” Boyd said. “And at practice, there’s not enough energy.” 

     A few older players have worked to fill that void left by last year’s graduates. Players and fans alike point to Sixth Form starter M.J. Atkins, who has shown incredible growth throughout his time on the program and has become a leader on and off the court.

     “M.J. Atkins has stepped up a lot. He makes plays, knows his role, and is a really good basketball player,” Mwangi said. “He just holds it down.”

M.J. Atkins ’20 enters the court with teammates – photo by Dr. Mike Nance

Author: Lleyton Winslow '20

Lleyton Winslow '20 is a student in the journalism seminar and a writer and editor for the school's literary magazine Pegasus. Winslow is also a member of the Black Student Union, the Diversity Alliance, and the track team.