Spirited offense gets job done in second half
The series between the San Quentin Kings and the outside Team Bittermen stands at 2-4 after a tight contest.
The Kings won Oct. 29 in a nail-biting clutch game, 68- 58. To keep the wins coming in, Coach Ish Freelon said, “We need to be more defense-minded and have more patience and believe in one another.”
Since Team Bittermen’s last match-up with the Kings, and their victory, Coach Mark and veteran power forward “Free” brought in some fresh legs to help clinch another win.
“I got some new ball players who really understand the game and know how to play,” said Free. He has been coming into the prison and basket-balling with the residents, and according to him, he enjoys being able to come in here and play some good games.
Tipoff was at noon, and from the start, the game was fast-paced. The full-court press was on by Team Bittermen, but that did not stop Kings forward “LS” from driving to the bucket and getting the and-one. His passionate game sparked an electric cord through the rest of his squad. The crucial fouls were being racked up on both teams and by the end of the first quarter, Team Bittermen held a comfortable lead, 20-13.
It was Team Bittermen’s 6’2” point guard, Andrew Wallace, first time inside of a prison, and he said that it was a great experience for him.
“I love basketball and being here makes me feel like I am at home balling on the streets with you guys. I love the basketball program here,” said Wallace while sitting on the bench for a breather. He has only been in the program for a short time after being introduced to it by “Free.”
“I was just curious and plus I wanted to be a part of something that has to do with rehabilitation and that can help the community,” said Wallace.
Both teams went to a zone defense that slowed the transitions. Kings player “EJ” was blocking out the Bittermen’s big men under the boards. Team Bittermen stepped up the ball movement and switched the offense to man-to-man. The back-and-forth battle under the bucket for the left-handed layups leveled out the points, bringing the Kings within one at the half, 35-34.
An impressive comeback.
In the third quarter, momentum shifted towards the Kings after Tommy Hall nailed a crucial three-pointer that motivated the crowd and put the Kings in the lead for the first time, 50-49.
“We gotta the intense defense,” said Hall. The new Kings player all but mimicked Coach Freelon’s assessment.
“We can give them the perimeter shots and we just continue to get the rebounds.” Hall had seen the basketball program in the newspaper when he was at another prison and it drew him to want to be in it.
The Kings did not allow Team Bittermen to recuperate and new player Wallace would slump. However, another newcomer, Adha M., turned up the fire, and his 5’8’ small frame and energy was electric.
“It’s my being in good condition from playing soccer that is kicking in for me,” said Adha M. He finished the half with 9 points, 2 assists and 2 rebounds.
Standing on the sideline after making two impressive back-to-back three-pointers, Kings number 2 guard Nash Batta looked anxious to get back into the game and help his team clinch the win even with a comfortable lead in the fourth.
“I think I contributed, but I want to continue more,” said Batta, who finished as the high scorer for the Kings, with 13 points and 2 rebounds. “Free” was Team Bittermen’s high scorer with 16 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 5 rebounds. Adha M. finished with 11 points and Wallace finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds. “LS” for the Kings finished with 8 points, 5 steals, and 10 rebounds. T-Mas had 10 points, 9 rebounds.