The San Quentin Kings basketball team battled back from a four-point deficit with 45 seconds on the clock to defeat the visiting Domiciliary Team.
“I’ve been playing basketball for 60 years, and these two games in prisons have been the best-spirited games I’ve ever been involved in,” said Joel Rosenthal, who retired after working 31 years in the Menlo Park Office of Veteran Affairs’ Domiciliary department, which helps veterans, including parolees, with housing issues.
Rosenthal, who coaches basketball, put together the Domiciliary team that included a couple of veterans. The Sept. 30 game marked the second time Rosenthal led his team into a prison for outreach. The first was in Chowchilla, where they won by 1 point in overtime. This time they blew a four-point lead by fouling two players as they made shots.
With 45 seconds left, the Kings fouled former U.S. Army prison guard Stephen Forester. He made both free-throws, which made his 11th point and put Domiciliary up 66-62.
King Demond Lewis got fouled while he scored, which left the Kings down 2. He missed the free-throw, but teammate D. “Zayd” Nickolson tipped the rebound into the hands of King Joshua Burton. He passed it to teammate Oris “Pep” Williams, who drove down the middle, pulled up mid court and made a floater as the defense fouled him.
He completed the And-one play to put his team up one with 11 seconds left.
“The game was on the line; we needed a bucket,” Williams, who led the Kings with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal, said. “That’s two wins in a row, and they were a good team.”
The Kings defense tied up the basketball, forcing a jump ball. The tip landed in the hands of Lewis, which ended any chance of a comeback.
The Veterans’ Group San Quentin opened the game by presenting the colors. They carried the United States flag and another that had the letters, “POW/MIA.”
“We still care about our country even though we’re in prison,” incarcerated veteran Gary Cooper said.
Assistant Kings Coach Orlando Harris welcomed the new team to San Quentin.
“We’re looking to have fun and welcome some new family,” Harris said. “Once you play here at San Quentin, you’re part of the family.”
Steve Fahrbach, a real-estate businessman, flew his son Tanner in from the University of Arizona for the experience.
“You have to make good decisions in life,” Fahrbach said. “I was stupid. I could have been here too.”
Harris introduced two Kings as veterans – Damon L. Cookë, Marine Corps, and Paul Oliver, Army Rangers.
“If we can show some humanity with people coming off the streets, why can’t the world do the same?” asked Cookë, who scored nine points with 10 rebounds.
Nic Newman, who led Domiciliary with 23 points, said, “Best basketball experience of my life. I’ve played high school. I coach high school ball, but this positive atmosphere, this is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Great experience, great game.”