Men at San Quentin watched the New Year come in on small television sets locked inside their cells, but when the yard opened the following morning, basketball players and runners celebrated 2019 through sports.
“It’s a great start to a New Year,” said SQ Warrior Dontaye “Twin” Harris. “It’s like being out of prison for an hour.”
The championship game for a full-court basketball tournament took place on the Lower Yard on New Year’s morning. Team “Put It Together” won, 38-35, after coming back from down nine points in the first quarter.
Harris and teammate Montrell Vines picked up Warrior veteran Allan McIntosh, SQ Kings Joshua Burton, Brian Asey and Adbul Malick plus Dontay Turner to form their team.
They played against team A-Game. Laval Gordon, Warriors Dejon Joy and Isaiah Love played with Kings Charles Sylvester, Jamal Harrison and Kenneth Lewis.
With five minutes left in the first of two quarters, A-Game led 11-2. Then Harris turned up, starting by nailing a three-pointer. Meanwhile, Love went so cold he air-balled a free throw.
“I ain’t played ball in three months; I was out of rhythm,” Love said about his performance. “When you’re over 30, you have to play consistently, but this game lit my desire for the game again.”
By the end of the first quarter, Put It Together led, 16-13.
Gordon went on a scoring mission and Love gathered himself in the last/second quarter to bring A-Game back. Love nailed a three-pointer and got to the line twice on foul calls when he attempted more threes. With 24 seconds left, the score was tied at 34.
McIntosh, a good free-throw shooter, was fouled to stop the clock. He made one free-throw. On the next play, Harrison was called for a foul while blocking McIntosh from scoring. McIntosh put his team up another point from behind the line.
Down by two with 19 second left to play, Love shot a three that missed, but his teammate Joy rebounded the ball. Joy missed the layup, got his own rebound and went up strong but missed again. This time Put It Together ended up with the ball and D. Harris iced the game from the free-throw line to get the win.
“My New Year’s resolution for the Warriors is to have a winning season and it started with a win with some of my teammates,” Harris said.
McIntosh led all scorers with 16 points; Harris added 12.
Gordon led his team with 11 points; Love followed with 10.
“This reminds me of being at home,” Turner said. “We used to celebrate the holidays playing ball.”
As the basketball game went on, about 25 members of the 1000 Mile Running Club went by on their way to complete a half marathon, 13.1 miles — 52 laps.
Before the race, the men met in front of the “Field of Dreams” baseball scoreboard under a clear blue sky. Darren Settlemeyer beat his personal best half-marathon time by four minutes with a 1 hour and 58 minute time.
After everyone ran, burritos made by Tommy Wickerd were served. Wickerd left after running one lap to enjoy family visiting time with his wife.
“She blessed me all year; I had to give back,” Wickerd said.
Chris Schumacher and Eddie Herena, 1000 Mile Club members formerly incarcerated at San Quentin, ran outside the gates, in solidarity with the club.
“Today is one of the best days of my – knowing we can do something so family-orientated and it doesn’t stop after we get out,” Wickerd said. “Everyone is like my brothers.”