“We came together,” Coach Sholly Kehinde said after winning the finals over the Dream Team. This year was his first time as a head coach of an Intramural League basketball team.
The Intramural League follows a format similar to the NBA. Incarcerated men formed eight teams and were scheduled to play each other twice each throughout a 16 game season. The squads with the best records in each conference got seeded high in the playoff rounds. After reaching the finals, a best of five game series decided who would be crowned the champions.
The Dream Team, coached by Robert Lee, who referees the San Quentin Warriors games, made it to the finals to face Apply Pressure.
Ceasar McDowell assistant coached Lee’s team made up of mostly SQ Warriors veteran players Allan McIntosh, Anthony Ammons, Jamal Green , Kahlil Dallas and Montrell Vines. Also on the team were former Warrior and Current SQ King Center Jason Robinson along with Robert “Big Smooth” Polzin, Lavelle Gordon and Dontay Turner. Gordon was the only member of the team under 30.
Coach Kehinde had one Warrior on his team, Tevin “Cutty” Fournette and the current Head Coach Rafeal Cuevas who suited up as a player. Kehinde also had former Warrior Cornell “Fatality” Shields who made the game winning basket and steal in the 2017 SQ Warriors win over the visiting Golden State staffer squad. Apply Pressure, mostly made up of young players, also included Will Nguyen, Rickiane Harris, Marcel Williams, Reese Chavarry, Tamiko Carter and Kai Williams who played for Berkeley High School. The assistant coach, Kyrail Johnson, is also a young man.
Game one set the tone for the series. The Oct. 7 game went into quadruple overtime. The Dream Team won in the fourth extra five-minute period after a turnover on a fast break cost Apply Pressure the game. Veteran Warrior player Allan McIntosh led the Dream Team and all scorers with 40 points to a 88-85.
Apply Pressure tied the series in game two on Oct. 14. with a 55-44 win. Again McIntosh led all scorers with 21 points but no one else on the Dream Team scored in double digits. Meanwhile, on Apply Pressure’s Tevin Fournette scored 16, Cornell Shields 15 and Marcel Williams added 10.
The Dream Team took game three on Oct. 21 on the back of McIntosh scoring 36 points followed by Ammons with 17. They won 73-69 and needed one more win to take the championship.
“Game four was the toughest; they had us two to one,” Harris said. “It was win or go home.”
Shields went on one in the Oct. 28 game four. With his team down five points, he took over in the second half, scoring on ten straight points to give his team 37-36, one point lead.
“They can’t stop you Corn,” Paul Oliver said from the sidelines as he watched the game.
Then the rest of Apply Pressure came alive. Carter nailed a three-pointer followed by Harris with a layup and Nguyen with a floater than an assist to Shields for another basket. Shields finished to lead all scorers with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. McIntosh finished with 12.
With the game four score 55-43 and two minutes left on the clock, the Dream Team conceded.
Game five came down to whether McIntosh and Ammons could beat a complete team. In the first half, the Dream Team jumped ahead 5-0, led by Ammons who scored four points.
Apply Pressure responded with three pointers. Fournette nailed one trey and Kai Williams made two more. The half ended with Apply Pressure leading, 22-19.
Ammons had 9 points followed by Vines with six, while McIntosh only scored 5 in the first half.
In the second half with 17 minutes left in the game, Apply Pressure had a scare. Starting point guard Kai Williams went down on a strain ankle. He had to sit out for the rest of the game, but he wasn’t worried.
“I knew they could pull it off; our backups are starters,” he said.
In his place went in Nguyen who won the Intramural League championship last year on the team Kingdom Warriors.
McIntosh came to life in the second half for the Dream Team, but Ammons went cold. Meanwhile, Apply Pressure got contributions from everyone on the team.
Nguyen nailed a corner three. Marcel Williams followed with a layup, that put Apply Pressure up 46-42.
With 1 minute and 40 seconds left on the clock, Ammons scored to put his team within two at 49-47.
With Apply Pressure killing the clock, the Dream Team employed an intentional foul strategy.
Shields made two free-throws, increasing the lead.
McIntosh responded with a floater over the defender for the and none, as he missed the free throw but brought his team to within two at 51-49 with 1:16 left on the clock.
Fournette answered with a jumper, putting his team back up four.
Ammons shot a three that clacked off the rim with 53 seconds left.
“And that’s y’all season,” remarked Gee Wilson, an Apply Pressure advocate.
Wilson went on the court and celebrated the win a bit too early.
The referee gave Apply Pressure a technical foul for the premature party.
“This is over with; I could back flip and cartwheel on the court and it wouldn’t matter,” Wilson said.
McIntosh made the free tech shot, which kept hope alive. However, Fournette closed the game out with four straight clutch free-throws.
Fournette led Apply Pressure with 14 points, Shields 10, Harris 9 and Kia Williams 7.
“They’re real competitive,” Harris said. “They complicated this win. They’re good at switching their game up, they have shooters and they know how to play the paint.”
McIntosh finished game five with 19 points and Ammons added 16. The next highest scorer was Vines with 6 points.
League Commissioner Ishmael Freelon named McIntosh and Fournette co-MVPs of the season and Williams MVP of the finals.
For Carter the win meant going home on top.
“This was my farewell season,” Carter said.
He paroled four days later a champion.