San Quentin Kings tumble under .500

By Rahsaan Thomas

The Outsiders dealt the San Quentin Kings over-40 basketball team another loss, winning 96-89.

“First time we beat them two in a row,” said Outsider Steve Watkins.

Kings Coach Orlando Harris said, “It’s our first losing season in the four years I’ve been coaching. Even if we win our next two games, we’ll be two games under .500.”

Harris is scheduled to see the parole board in February. He said, “If I’m here next year, we’re starting from scratch. We need to infuse this team with new talent.”

Although the Kings had a few more games left in the season, this game was the last of the year against The Outsiders.

“Last game of the year is like our championship,” said Outsider coach, player and sponsor John Brewster.

The Outsiders started slow, coming out of the first quarter down 29-19. Then they put Brandon Hargrave, a 24-year old who is 5-foot-10, into the game. He torched the Kings for 29 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 steals.

By the end of the second period, the Outsiders led 53-43.

“I heard Bob Myers came in and showed out so I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Hargrave joked. “It’s fun. They got out early and we fought. We handled the pressure and never let them get their momentum back.”

Referee Robert Lee spoke at half-time about what the Kings basketball program means to him.

“With battling prostate cancer and having 25-to-life, coming out here gives me an outlet,” Lee said. “During going through chemotherapy, what kept me motivated is that I could come out here. I can’t play basketball no more but refereeing allows me to stay close to the sport I love.”

The Kings made a run at the beginning of the third, getting two steals and a block on defense and scoring on offensive to make the score 54-51 Outsiders.

The Outsiders called a time-out and adjusted. Hargrave nailed a trey to increase the distance 58-51.

The Kings closed the gap again in the fourth with 3:11 to go. Joseph Kelly was fouled and made both free-throws, bringing the Kings within 3 at 86-83.

Then Outsider Steve Watkins, normally quiet on offense, nailed two threes, stopping the Kings’ comeback. He finished with 8 points.

The Kings also had no answer for Joel “Big Country” Simons, a 6-foot-8, 300-pound center. He scored 18 points with 10 rebounds.

“When we have Big Country, we get boards, stop their big guys and we’re good,” Brewster said.

Outsiders Bill Utnehmer added 14 points, ending the season on a bittersweet high note.

“The off season is too long,” Utnehmer said. “We should play indoors through the winter.”

Pep “Oris” Williams led the Kings with 18 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds and 5 steals in the losing effort.

“We had defensive laps,” Williams said.

King teammates Charles Sylvester and D. “Zayd” Nickolson added 14 points each, J. “Mailman” Ratchford, 12, and Thad Fleeton, 11.

“I look forward to the outside teams coming in,” Williams said. “It’s like a visit from family; you look forward to them coming. It relieves a lot of stress.”

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