In the 2017 Intramural Basketball League season’s first game, Kingdom Warriors beat Them Boyz 79-63 with a surge in the final minutes, despite the 25-point effort of guard Donta Fields. The game kicked off with an announcement that all basketball players are under one program, which unites the league with San Quentin’s best basketball players — SQ Warriors and Kings.
The Intramural league has eight teams made up of players on the yard. They do not have uniforms or sneakers donated from outside organizations, as do the Kings and Warriors. The newly formed board seeks to change that.
“We have a vision that includes what we do in here and, hopefully; translates into the world,” Robert “Bishop” Butler, general manager for the Warriors and now the chairman of the board for the San Quentin Basketball Program.
SQ Warriors Head Coach Rafael Cuevas added, “I want people not only to play hoops, but also to benefit from the connections with the outside people. That shouldn’t be limited to 12 players.”
The first game of the season had playoff intensity, with more lead changes than a NASCAR race.
Kingdom Warriors stacked talent from the SQ Warriors including Harry “ATL” Smith, Andre “NBA Dre” Belion, Wilson Nguyen and head coach Cuevas. Still Them Boyz hung with them.
Earlier on, Them Boyz took a 10-4 lead off the back-to-back 3-point shooting of 5-foot-9, 270 pound guard Fields.
“Everybody played a part by getting me open looks to shoot the ball — it was a team effort,” said Fields, who led his team with an array of threes and drives to the rack.
When the two teams weren’t trading baskets, they traded runs until the final 13 minutes of the two half college-style games.
Kingdom Warriors’ Torrion Hart came off the bench and nailed a three for the tie at 54-54. Teammate Matthew Carnegie’s And One play took the lead. From there, the Kingdom Warriors went on an offensive run while Them Boyz struggled to score.
“It was a close game,” Carnegie said. “We kept going, kept fighting, and we made a few adjustments on defense.”
Belion increased the lead with back-to-back three point plays — first a three, then an And One. Belion led all scorers with 27 points.
“Me and NBA Dre (Belion) go back to 2014,” Smith said. “He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen incarcerated. It’s gonna be a special season.”
Them Boyz guard D’Romeo Allen tried to single-handedly bring his team back, but he forced fast breaks, missing lay ups and opportunities to pass the ball to open teammates. He finished with 22 points.
“We’re pretty good,” Fields said. “We just have to come out with the same intensity that we did in the first half all 48 minutes of the game.”
With 53 seconds left on the clock and the Kingdom Warriors up 75-63, they didn’t let up.
Guard Nguyen stole the ball and led a fast break down court that ended with an alley-oop pass and a monster dunk from Smith.
Then on the next play, Nguyen dropped a deuce.
Nguyen finished with 13 points, Carnegie added 15 with 10 rebounds, Smith had 16 with 10 rebounds, and Hart added 10.
Ricky Joseph scored 7 and Tylor “Flock” Johnson added 6 for Them Boyz.
Belion commented, “It’s a real surreal thing to have camaraderie with like-minded people. It gives you a sense of humanity. It feels nice to be called a player or a teammate instead of an inmate or criminal.”