Brandon Cole knows only one way to play basketball. No matter what, he goes hard.
It doesn't even matter if the 6-foot-4 forward from West Catholic Prep is playing in an all-star game.
With Cole's City compatriots trailing by 10 with only seconds remaining at Sunday's 28th annual All-Star Labor Classic, the Suburbs attempted a cherry-on-top alley-oop.
That's when Cole flew in and broke up Amir Hinton's dunk attempt with a foul from behind. The play didn't appear dirty or dangerous, but was certainly unexpected. There was no hint of tension after the play. Instead, both teams simply walked to the foul line.
"That last play was not intentional," Cole said, smiling. "I just couldn't let them get that dunk. I already saw the clock, and we were down by 10, so I said, 'Nah, they can't finish the game that way! They have to finish with a miss or something.' "
The Suburbs, led by 16 points from Penn Wood's Malik Jackson, prevailed, 74-62, at a packed gym inside New Foundations Charter in Northeast Philadelphia.
In the girls' game, despite a brawl in the parking lot just outside the school's front doors, Neumann-Goretti's A.J. Timbers led all scorers with 16 points in the City's 66-49 victory.
Cole, a Nicetown resident, hopes his 11-point performance garnered attention from the college coaches in attendance.
"It was very competitive," Cole said. "You have to come with a competitive mind-set because everybody wants to get looks from colleges."
Cole, who transferred from Math, Civics and Sciences Charter after his freshman year, learned toughness was his way onto the court.
"Growing up, I was never the best player on the team, so I had to always work harder than everybody and show coaches that I deserved to be on the floor," he said. "I had to show them I could play."
If he can't persuade college coaches, Cole already has a backup plan.
"I want to be a chef," he said. "I found that passion in a class at West Catholic. Every day, I just felt happy in there, like this is where I need to be. A calling from God, I guess."
To that end, Cole has worked weekends at a catering company for the last two months. And chances are anything he hasn't learned on the job, he already has picked up at home.
"I learned most of my skills from watching my mother [Nashae Harris]," he said. "She bakes a lot of chicken, pasta and a lot of fish, too."
The fight, which involved several people, began late in the second half of the girls' game and occurred just outside the side entrance to the gym, a few feet from the school's entrance.
Play was never interrupted. However, at some point during the altercation, Neumann-Goretti guard Ciani Cryor (Georgia Tech) left through the door.
It was not immediately clear why the fight started. Police were called, but the people involved in the fight - male and female - dispersed before officers arrived.
City 29 33 - 62
Suburbs 33 41 - 74
C: Charles Brown 2, Brandon Cole 11, Samir Doughty 6, Jhamil Harris 2, Dave Krmpotich 6, Chase Kumor 3, Dominick Morales 6, Samir Taylor 4, Najee Walls 9, Elmange Watson 2, Shawn Witherspoon 9, Luke Connaghan 2.
S: Martin Dorsey 6, Tim Guers 5, Amir Hinton 2, Malik Jackson 16, Cameron Jones 9, Jonathan Lawton 10, Andre Mitchell 5, James Murray 4, Addison Joshua Scott 7, Derrick Woods 10.
Suburbs 23 26 - 49
City 30 36 - 66
S: Breanna Bermel 7, Olivia Gorman 7, Jordan Ireland 2, Alisha Kelly 4, Maria Kilcullen 2, Rylee Power 8, Deja Rawls 1, Sam Sacchetta 2, Allison Taub 2, Shannon Taub 2, Taylor Thames 10, Stephanie Williams 2.
C: Christina Aborowa 9, Ciani Cryor 6, Sianni Martin 11, Shayna Rodriguez 2, Melanie Schoolfield 7, Danielle Skedzielewski 5, Lexi Stover 6, A.J. Timbers 16, Mary Ulasewicz 4.