5-7 Tyndale stands tall for Gratz

Posted: January 30, 2014

AS UNDERDOG stories go, when the Simon Gratz Bulldogs walk into a basketball gym, get your writing materials ready.

The tale of the tape at the Simons Community Recreation Center yesterday was a visual account.

With referees yet to enter the gym, host Delaware-Valley Charter and its band of long and lively leapers warmed up with a variety of impressive dunks.

On the other end: the Bulldogs, whose roster sports several sub-6-footers, finger-rolled their way loose.

Senior guard Malik Tyndale noticed the Warriors' aerial display, but the 5-7 guard wasn't fazed.

"Yes, I saw it," he said. "We're not intimidated. We're undersized, but we have more heart than other teams."

Gratz (13-6, 10-2) eventually outlasted Del-Val, 48-40, in a battle atop the Public League's B Division. Tyndale, the younger brother of former Gratz and Temple standout Mark, finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

For Malik, his basketball journey mirrors that of Gratz this season - both consider themselves underdogs. He started off at West Catholic, but left for Gratz in search of playing time as a junior.

"I think I'm underrated, but that's for the media [to decide]," he said. "I just try to play hard every game and bring heart. I'm small, but big guys don't intimidate me. I just try to bring it every game."

The Bulldogs' starting lineup topped out with 6-2 junior forward Joseph Burnett (nine points) and bottomed at 5-foot junior guard Chris Howser-Dinkins.

The Warriors (13-6, 10-2) had height to spare so they brought two 6-4 forwards off the bench. However, a quick 10-2 start by the Bulldogs spoke to Tyndale's assertion.

"He's pretty much our heart," said Gratz coach Andre Griffin. "He's the heart and soul of this team. As you can see, as he goes, we go. Our kids feed off his energy."

Tyndale's most impressive two came after a steal and burst down the floor against four waiting defenders. The heady play was probably to wait for his mates, but maybe leaders have to lead.

Tyndale missed the layup, but grabbed his own rebound and scored.

"It was tunnel vision," he said. "I'm faster than guys so I saw the basket and I believed in my abilities to get to the basket. I didn't finish, but I stayed with the play and got the putback."

DVC entered tops in division play, but with the victory, Gratz finds itself with a share of the marquee.

Senior forward Qasim White added 11 points and three steals, while junior wing Tahir Wharton corraled 15 rebounds for the Bulldogs.

The Warriors were led by 6-4 junior forward Karl Lewis, who scored eight points, grabbed 14 boards and blocked six shots. Senior guard Shahid Adams added nine points.

The crowd had an adult feel because DVC athletic director Will Cambria, who was in attendance, said the school wanted to take extra precautions after a shooting incident that took place at the school earlier this month. Only parents were allowed in the gym.

Tyndale lives with his mother near 16th and Ontario. With big brother a city standout and now earning dollars overseas (Australia, Israel, etc), the burden to impress is sometimes heavy, but the incentive to succeed is the great motivator.

"I have a name to live up to, but I try not to think about that so much," he said. "It motivates me because I'm small, but I feel like I have the heart to live up to it."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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