By Steven Harris
Journalism Guild Writer
The San Quentin Kings basketball team tracked down the visiting Trailblazers to tie the game and win in overtime, 70-65.
“We committed two crucial turnovers with 10 seconds to play and that cost us the game,” Trailblazer head coach Ted Saltveit said.
In the fourth quarter, the Trailblazers were up 65-63, with seconds left to play. King Marvin Cosby knocked down a three-pointer for the lead. The Trailblazers tied it up with five seconds to go.
The Trailblazers had the ball again going for the win but tried to force the ball to forward Will Wheatly. King Demond Lewis denied the ball and both teams scrambled for the loose ball. King Oris “Pep” Williams came up with the ball. Lewis was open for a potential lay-up, but Williams did not see him and heaved the ball at the rim. It fell short to send the game into OT.
In overtime, Kings forward D. “Zayd” Nickolson worked hard in the low post rebounding and scoring. He finished with 12 points. Crosby ran the offense with controlled ball savvy. His knockdown mid-range jumpers and his free throws secured the win. He finished with 15 points.
“We needed to speed up the tempo,” said Williams. “We got some points on the fast break. It was a beautiful day.”
The game started slow and neither team could find a rhythm. Lewis hit a three-pointer to get the ball rolling. He ended the game with 20 points. More impressive was his defense on Trailblazers key player Wheatly. Wheatly still managed a game-high 28 points.
The Trailblazers featured new guard Orlando Watkins.
“I’m glad to be here,” said Watkins. “I told all my friends I was coming here to play ball.”
The first quarter was a low-scoring affair; the Kings led 13-7. The officiating frustrated both ball clubs.
“I wanted to run,” said King guard Tare Beltran. “I like a fast pace back and forth game.”
The Trailblazers began the second quarter taking advantage of mismatches with center Damien Cosby. He put up 16 points and did a solid job rebounding. His team regained the lead at half-time, 24-18.
Kings’ head coach Orlando Harris had to ignite his team to stay focused.
“We committed too many turnovers,” said Harris. “We needed to take care of the ball.”
At half-time, both teams met at the half-court circle. Lewis talked about how he got to prison and what playing basketball means to him.
“I shot a guy in the leg,” said Lewis. “I did not want to kill him. He just beat up another guy real bad and he wanted to fight me next.”
Lewis got 15 years for that and 94 years of enhancements. He said that he won awards for playing ball in school and only his real family came to his games.
“I wanted to go to college,” said Lewis. “I got my girlfriend pregnant. Now I play ball for them and my new family here at San Quentin.”
The intensity increased in the second half. Williams led fast breaks, finding center J. “Mailman” Ratchford for lay-ups.
Wheatly got into a rhythm on offense, but the Kings came out the third quarter ahead, 41-34.
“I thank the visitors for coming and giving their support to the program,” said King Aubra-Lamont McNeely at the April 16 game.
The prison board recently gave McNeely a three-year denial. In an emotional exchange, Saltveit told him that he supported him in his denial and whatever his future holds.
Saltveit said that he got to know McNeely over the past seasons and he sees McNeely as a man he wants to be like.
McNeely concluded that he would continue working on making himself more suitable for parole.
By Steven Harris