Santa Rosa City Councilmember Mark Stapp returned to San Quentin with his Team Bitterman and beat the SQ Kings 70-59, extending their wins since their last victory.
Stapp brought in 11 community volunteers to battle the home team. Last November, Stapp’s team defeated the Kings 82-77.
“I’m excited kicking this season off and I’m looking forward for a better season ahead,” Stapp said.
Councilmember Stapp has served as a longtime program volunteer who has visited San Quentin for more than a decade before his recent election to the Santa Rosa City Council.
“As a councilman, the new job is full time,” said Stapp. “I help with the entire city structure: public safety, firemen, police, including water support, things of that nature. I also help with the prison firefighter workers.”
Stapp first came to San Quentin at the invitation of teacher Ted Salveit, who organized a team to play basketball against San Quentin residents.
“I was playing with a San Francisco team called the Bittermen,” Stapp said. “Ted got us together for what we thought would be one game at San Quentin.”
Stapp sponsors the basketball program and helps with gate clearance for outside players to enter San Quentin.
“Other officials heard what I do when I come into the prison and they are asking to support the program too,” Stapp said.
The game began on a seasonably warm spring day with Team Bitterman wearing bold black jerseys. The twelve players performed warm-up drills in anticipation of intense competition with their San Quentin rivals.
The San Quentin Kings began the game by pressuring the Bitterman defense, but Team Bitterman played a good offense and an even better defense.
Veteran volunteer Jack Soenens, who has come to San Quentin for almost a decade, brought his 18-year-old son James, the basketball team captain and starting point guard at Mount Tamalpais High School. The elder Soenens wanted to show his son the reason he has come to San Quentin for nearly a decade, to play basketball and win.
“I’m planning on our team to start better [this season] than the Golden State Warriors did during their post-season,” Soenens said about his goal for the new season. “I’m teaching my son about strategy around the court, teaching him the dynamics of it,” Soenens said. “One side is taller than the other, and I want him to go in on the taller side with more strength.”
Stapp took on the Kings’ big seven-footer Cooper under the bucket. Stapp scored often, achieving many of his points at the foul line.
The Kings led by one point at the half. Derrick, Oola and Mal tried very hard to keep the Kings alive during the second half. Unfortunately, no one explained this to Team Bitterman. The Kings could not keep up.
The big players on Team Bitterman kept their very big feet on the necks of the Kings for the rest of the game, preventing the Kings from gaining any momentum, forcing them to trail for the remainder of the game.