Thirteen-point victory over Green Team closes out slump
The San Quentin Kings beat the outside Green team 67-54, rising out of their losing slump to the outside team. Although the Green team had the size advantage, the Kings came out firing on all cylinders, both offensively and defensively.
“Pookie” Sylvester and Bryan Underwood shared in a defensive steal that led to an easy layup by Sylvester.
“It hurts me to see Pookie score,” laughed Mark Stapp, coach of the Green team.
The game on Oct. 15 was fast-paced and both teams battled under the rim on offense and defense. They gave the modest crowd a pleasing game to watch on that misty Friday morning. While the Lower Yard had other sports activities going on, the basketball game drew the most attention. When “Big Will” Wheatley dropped a dime pass for a well-contested layup, the crowd responded with oohs and ahs.
At halftime the Kings led comfortably 44-28. During the halftime break, both teams met in the center of the court to express appreciation for the opportunity to play despite each team coming from opposite sides of San Quentin’s walls.
For one player, basketball has transformed his life from one of negativity to positivity, and soon, a life of freedom. “Basketball changed my life,” said Jamal Green, the Kings’ power forward, as he shared his journey to recovery in the center of the crowd of players. “It saved me from a life of drugs and negativity. It’s like a self-help group. It’s more than just basketball.”
During the third quarter, Jamaal “Do it all” Harrison
let his presence be felt with a sweet layup under the bucket and drives to the basket. The pressure was on and the Green Team’s Wheatley suffered a scuff to the face while trying to block a shot, leading to a timeout. By the end of the third, the Kings led 53-43.
“[Basketball] brings people together and allows people to get to know each other,” Wheatley said, reflecting on second chances and playing basketball in prison. “I feel grateful. A lot of us are just one mistake away from being in here. I have family that is incarcerated. I believe that we all deserve a second chance.”
The Kings dominated the game. As hard as the Green Team played, they struggled to gain momentum. Once the Kings stepped on the court, they let it be known that they came to play and it gave them their first victory this season.
“We played good defense and we played well,” said Kings Head Coach Ish Freelon. “Although it was a team effort and we scored good shots, I give the game ball to Mall, Derek and Nash.”
Going forward this season, Coach Freelon was optimistic. “We just gonna take one game at a time.”