It was picture day for the basketball and football programs Friday, Jan 20, on the San Quentin Lower Yard, but the comeback victory of the SQ Kings over the SQ Warriors, 11-8, stole the spotlight.
The Kings gave the large crowd of SQ residents a dramatic comeback show that was outstanding and full of excitement.
The Lower Yard was the place where the athletes came out to take pictures for the upcoming seasons, but their competitive nature could not be captured in a picture frame.
Picture day meant more to the athletes than just photo shoots and footage. It meant something to be proud of. It meant something to share. It meant they could show their friends and family the progress they were making through the programs that support their rehabilitation in prison.
In particular, this day showed the athletes’ confidence and the power of playing sports for rehabilitation.
“This day means a lot to me,” said newcomer Jabari “JJ” Shabazz. Shabazz is a dual-athlete at The Q, playing as both a promising receiver for the football SQ Niners and a guard for the basketball SQ Warriors. “I want to send a copy of the paper with my picture in it to my family so they can see what I am doing in here, so they can see that I’m not in here messing my life up.”
Due to the guys’ competitive and athletic nature, the process of gathering footage turned into a pick-up game. Coaches of the SQ Warriors and SQ Kings, Jeramiah “JB” Brown and Ish Freelon, put together a four-on-four match. And the guys could not help but to allow the true athlete come up out of them.
The twin towers for the Warriors, power forward Tyler “Drizzy” Cooper, standing 6’7”, and center, Big Rick Hale, standing 6’5,” underestimated the smaller opponents. Though between the two big men, over half the team’s points were scored.
The Warriors dominated the court at first. Game was going to 10 points. All of the boards and the inside lanes belonged to the reincarnation of The Admiral, David Robinson, and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs. Point guard Delvy Adams and shooting guard Keyshawn “Steez” Strickland were contributing to the press for the Warriors’ defense.
But, then came the dramatic uprising by the Kings’ point guard, Tare “Cancun” Beltranchuc, and power forward Stan “LS” Tillman. The two started coordinating give-and-go plays and set up picks that allowed Tillman to start raining three-point shots from the field.
“It all came down to the I.Q. we have. When I play against the youngsters, it brings out my best game. I apply the game I have to overcome their speed,” said Beltranchuc, referring to the younger team of the Warriors.
The Warriors held a comfortable lead over the Kings by eight points. Next shot made by them would win the game. But the speed and skilled dribbles of Beltranchuc, combined with the dime pass to “LS” Tillman for two long-range three-pointers, gave the Kings the win over the Warriors and a team celebration.