If your state or county facility has a sports program, and you’d like to see your stories mentioned in the SQNews Sports section, have the athletic director email the story to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include first and last names of everyone involved as well as photos.
The San Quentin Warriors come into the 2019 season 3-4 against the Golden State Warriors coaching staff—the biggest game of each season, and also having the coach for the last two seasons step down to attempt to become a player on the team again. On 2/10/2019, while watching the Lakers v. Sixers on ESPN/ABC, we touched on these issues with the new coach of the San Quentin Warriors, Anthony Evans, in the following interview.
SQN: Coach, what’s your philosophy for upcoming season? I’ve heard that the old playbook is out. Is that true?
Evans: Yes. The old play- it looks like algebra to some of the players. With anything with more than one moving part—it only takes one moving part to throw the whole thing into chaos. For that reason, we’re going back to a more freestyle form of basketball.
SQN: With The Q becoming a non-designated yard, does that mean any special consideration for players arriving here seeking to get a spot on the team? Has anyone tried to say to you that you have to have certain types of people on the team?
Evans: No. When I came into the meeting for consideration of becoming the coach, I established that there’s no strings attached to the position. No one has a guaranteed spot. There’s 15 jerseys and each one is up for grabs. I run this team as I see fit, period. There are no quotas, no limitations, no reserved seating, none of that. We’re looking for the elite players on the yard.
SQN: So, does that mean that each player on the team is there based on their ability to play the game and their knowledge of the game?
Evans: Yes and no, for the most part, yes. Its ability, effort and the style of basket- ball that I envision.
SQN: Does a person’s attitude have a role in making the team?
Evans: Yes! Cancers spread.
SQN: How do you deal with a player that receives a 115? (Rules Violation Report) I noticed the past two sea- sons, the previous coach has sat some big name players on the bench for some big games due to this issue…
Evans: Being an assistant the past two seasons, I was in full agreement then, and that policy still stands.
SQN: It’s the worst kept secret at The Q that there have been or are currently players that are either openly or secretly members of the LGBTQ community involved in the sports programs. How do you approach this issue with the Warriors?
Evans: Same as the military: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. There’s no locker rooms, nor do we ask what a person does in their personal time away from the game. It actually has zero to do with the game, so, no, it’s not an issue. If it becomes an issue, we’ll address it in a closed team meeting and deal with it. We’ll ask about that persons’ medical status – in confidence – and if it’s possible that they can expose others, then we’ll address that – in confidence. We’re not here to openly embarrass people, nor to expose their personal business. My duty is to protect all players my team and the visitors, on the court. We’re here for self-help, empowerment, community enrichment, and all that’s founded on playing basketball.
SQN: What are your goals for the team this season?
Evans: We’ve from a team to program over the past two years, so now it’s about adding “a winning program” to the resume.
SQN: I noticed you went and found two really good veteran players and brought them onto the coaching staff; what do they bring to the table that you think will improve the team?
Evans: Fifty years of experience on the court; a working knowledge of the game. Some veteran leadership and some teachable skill sets
SQN: Rapid Fire questions… I’m going to say something and you give the first word/phrase that comes to mind, okay?
1. March Madness: Excitement!
2. Bob Myers: Wonderful! 3. 1⁄2 Man 1⁄2 Amazing (Anthony Ammons): Bedrock of the team.
4. Kurt & Kent Lacob: The ultimate humanitarians. 5. LeBron James: Best in the game.
6. Bobby Knight: Great tactician, but I would never have sent my child to Indiana!
7. Kevin Durant: Still growing
8. Harry Smith (ATL): Work in progress
SQN: Thanks for the time coach.
Evans: Looking forward to a competitive and exciting season. I thank all the coaches, former coaches and peers who thought me worthy to be the coach and I was humbled by that. I hope to reward their trust in the program.
Oakland, Calif., has a rich, storied history of basketball talent that stretches from Bill Russell (McClymonds High School) to Damian Lilliard (Oakland High School). From iconic playgrounds like Moss- wood Park, to Harmon Gym on the UC Berkeley Campus, where Oakland native Jason Kidd earned his stripes, “The Town” brand of hoops has left its mark. Jamal Harrison grew up in this culture, soaking up the expertise of his predecessors.
For visitors to the lower yard, who have watched the San Quentin Kings basketball team, “Mal” is a playmaker and quiet leader on the court, but most people don’t know the journey he’s taken to get here.
Harrison said he grew up tagging along with his two older brothers as they played ball around Oakland. He tried to imitate their movements. Watching them, he said, helped him develop his own style; he became known as a fierce competitor on the blacktop.
But basketball wouldn’t save Jamal from the realities of life in the inner city. Family problems prompted him to run away from home at the age of 14. He met his father for the first time at 15. That same year, because of increasing problems at home, he moved to Texas to live with his Dad. The Lone Star State presented new opportunities and Jamal played on his high school basketball team there. It was his first experience with the concepts of teamwork, coaching and basketball fundamentals.
Harrison moved back to Oakland at 16 and joined Castlemont High School’s basketball team. He played in popular local tournaments at places like the 85th Ave Boys and Girls Club, Brookfield, the 65th Village, and YAP in Berkeley.
Jamal loved the NBA and followed local stars like Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Isaiah Rider and Antonio Davis. However, his idol, like most kids at the time, was Michael Jordan.
“I wanted to be 6’6” like MJ”, says Harrison, adding, as if remorseful, “but J. Kidd is my favorite player of all time.”
Even as his basketball game developed, drama at home prompted him to find sanctuary in the streets. He got into trouble and ended up being kicked off the Castlemont High team and out of the basketball tournament circuit.
At 18, Harrison joined the military to escape his surroundings. He chose the Navy, because of his admiration of “The Admiral” David Robinson, who went from the Naval Academy to the NBA. Jamal played for the USS Kittyhawk (CV63) and from there tried to get on the All- Navy team.
In the Navy, “I really started to learn what goes into the game of basketball, the preparation, techniques, and fine points,” Harrison said.
The highlights of his Naval basketball career include playing a semi-pro game in Tasmania, Australia, and signing autographs for fans. In his highest scoring game, in Bremerton, Wash., he scored 25 points and dunked on an opposing player who was 6’9.
In spite of all of this success, old demons resurfaced. Harrison went AWOL twice after multiple disciplinary infractions. He said he was ultimately released from service with an “other than honorable discharge” after two and a half years in uniform.
Back in Oakland, Harrison got a job.
“I tried to go straight but I wasn’t making enough money, so I got influenced by the streets,” he said.
This new direction had him in and out of jail and prison. Ultimately he landed at San Quentin, where he became part of the Kings.
Kings’ starting point guard Oris “Pep” Williams describes Harrison as, “a quiet leader on the court and great teammate. Off the court, he’s a smooth character.”
Harrison said that playing basketball at San Quentin has changed his perspective. He describes the Kings basketball team as being a “brotherhood” and the court as one of the only places in prison where race doesn’t matter.
“Basketball is a culture,” Harrison said. “When you see someone playing, there is an instant connection. No matter where we are or where we come from, we are speaking the same language.”
Seeing volunteers and outside teams come into the prison has changed Harrison, too. After games, opposing players share their testimonies with everyone circled around half-court. Harrison is always surprised with how non-judgmental and supportive they are.
All of this has solidified Harrison’s drive to get out of prison and use basket- ball as a tool to help young people, who may be experiencing similar challenges to those he went through. His plan is to open up a barber- shop and become a teacher on African culture, but the lessons of support and love he has learned from basketball form the backbone of his aspiration.
Harrison said he truly believes that if he’d had a mentor at 16, to not only teach him the game but also give him guidance off of the court, would have kept him out of trouble.
Harrison believes in God and that everything happens for a reason. The next step is to take all of these lessons back to the community which was formative for him in establishing his identity.
Some of the top San Quentin athletes showed their talents for the annual tryouts for the prison’s age 40 and older basketball team.
The Kings coaching staff picked a mix of returning veteran players with several new faces, putting the scrimmage teams in scenarios that tested each player’s ability to gel in adverse situations.
“These situations are done to test how players respond emotionally, as well as to see what their basketball IQ is like,” said Head Coach Orlando Harris. “We have plays, but can you adapt quickly if a play breaks down?”
Another key strategy in the tryouts was to see how players responded to perceived bad calls by referees.
“Because we’re playing against teams coming in from outside, our conduct is highly scrutinized,” Harris said. “Bad calls are going to happen; that’s part of the game, but how you respond to bad calls matters huge in making this team.”
“This is really organized, definitely the most organized I’ve ever seen at any prison,” said 39-year-old Derrick Gray, who was looking for a position as a point guard on the team.
Veteran player Jamal “Do It All” Harrison made some big plays in the set scrimmages. Patrick “Nick Nasty” Shields, a 5-foot-10, 220-pound, undersized power forward, made some excellent moves around the rim, making himself a key prospect to make the team.
Another new face to the Kings is Earl “The Pearl” Wilson, a fundamentally sound player who can play three positions and has a high basketball IQ. Wilson is well known to tennis players who come inside San Quentin to play against the Inside Tennis team,
The tryouts were held on Jan. 26-27, 2019.
A road closure left the Green Team with only five players, including the 65-year old Don Smith, for a full court game schedule against the San Quentin Warriors, so they picked up two guys off the prison yard and won 99-92.
“I was worried coming in with four guys,” David Liss, who played college basketball for Pomona, said.
A shutdown highway left Prison Sport Ministry’s Green Team players Kevin Kelly, Antoine Maddox and Charles Lowery stuck in traffic with no way to reach San Quentin State Prison in time for the game.
Alex Nesbitt a 25-year old from the Southside of Chicago who played for Harvard University, came in for the first time with the Green Team. They also had 6-foot-8 Robert Allen along with Dan Wohl, who played pro in Israel.
Meanwhile, the San Quentin Warriors’ starters warmed up in anticipation. For Tevin Fournette it would be one of his final three games as a Warrior.
“This my last season; I go home in January,” Fournette said.
Both Jonte Washington and Marcel Williams showed they may have what it takes to replace Fournette next season. Washington is 6-foot-7, 288 pounds and loves to shoot threes. Williams is young and all muscle. Neither play on the SQ Warriors, but both were on Intramural League teams. Williams won the 2018 Championship with a team called Apply Pressure.
The Green Team picked up Washington and Williams without ever seeing them ball before.
“Basketball is a common language,” Wohl said. “We dapped each other and went to work.”
The Green Team took off in the first quarter and held a 49-42 lead by the end of the second.
“We got outplayed,” Warriors vet Allan McIntosh said. “They out rebounded us and their second chance buckets killed us today.”
At half time Annie Smith, Don’s wife, delivered an inspirational message.
“God will give you back what you have lost,” Annie passionately said. “Sometimes it may not look like what you thought but what God gives us is so much better.”
She also remarked that coming into the prison with her husband, a sponsor of the Prison Sports Ministry program, helps her appreciate her life, even when she’s stuck in traffic.
“Brian’s face pops up when I want to complain,” Annie said.
She referred to what Brian Asey, general manager of the SQ basketball program who is serving multiple life sentences, always says. He would appreciate a chance to parole and experience many things free people gripe about.
When the game resumed, the Green Team took a 17 point lead. Liss lit the Warriors up from three point land, making three in the quarter and six in the game. Williams scored in the paint on missed shots and going to the rack. Washington held down the boards.
Wohl had the highlight play of the game with a ball-fake look off while he Europe- stepped passed two defenders to reach the rack for a layup which made the score 74-57 with 3:16 left in the third.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors charged back. Jamai Johnson made a hook shot to bring his team with 6 at 84-78 with 7:30 left in regulation.
Fournette scored back-to-back baskets on offense, but the Green Team answered both times, which kept the Warriors at least six points away.
Fournette led the Warriors with 25 points but Williams led all scorers with 26 points. Wohl added 24 and Liss made the third Green Team player who scored in the twenties with 21 points. Washington added 16.
“This shows the Warriors they really need me,” Washington said. “Those 16 points could have been on their side.”
“We came together,” Coach Sholly Kehinde said after winning the finals over the Dream Team. This year was his first time as a head coach of an Intramural League basketball team.
The Intramural League follows a format similar to the NBA. Incarcerated men formed eight teams and were scheduled to play each other twice each throughout a 16 game season. The squads with the best records in each conference got seeded high in the playoff rounds. After reaching the finals, a best of five game series decided who would be crowned the champions.
The Dream Team, coached by Robert Lee, who referees the San Quentin Warriors games, made it to the finals to face Apply Pressure.
Ceasar McDowell assistant coached Lee’s team made up of mostly SQ Warriors veteran players Allan McIntosh, Anthony Ammons, Jamal Green , Kahlil Dallas and Montrell Vines. Also on the team were former Warrior and Current SQ King Center Jason Robinson along with Robert “Big Smooth” Polzin, Lavelle Gordon and Dontay Turner. Gordon was the only member of the team under 30.
Coach Kehinde had one Warrior on his team, Tevin “Cutty” Fournette and the current Head Coach Rafeal Cuevas who suited up as a player. Kehinde also had former Warrior Cornell “Fatality” Shields who made the game winning basket and steal in the 2017 SQ Warriors win over the visiting Golden State staffer squad. Apply Pressure, mostly made up of young players, also included Will Nguyen, Rickiane Harris, Marcel Williams, Reese Chavarry, Tamiko Carter and Kai Williams who played for Berkeley High School. The assistant coach, Kyrail Johnson, is also a young man.
Game one set the tone for the series. The Oct. 7 game went into quadruple overtime. The Dream Team won in the fourth extra five-minute period after a turnover on a fast break cost Apply Pressure the game. Veteran Warrior player Allan McIntosh led the Dream Team and all scorers with 40 points to a 88-85.
Apply Pressure tied the series in game two on Oct. 14. with a 55-44 win. Again McIntosh led all scorers with 21 points but no one else on the Dream Team scored in double digits. Meanwhile, on Apply Pressure’s Tevin Fournette scored 16, Cornell Shields 15 and Marcel Williams added 10.
The Dream Team took game three on Oct. 21 on the back of McIntosh scoring 36 points followed by Ammons with 17. They won 73-69 and needed one more win to take the championship.
“Game four was the toughest; they had us two to one,” Harris said. “It was win or go home.”
Shields went on one in the Oct. 28 game four. With his team down five points, he took over in the second half, scoring on ten straight points to give his team 37-36, one point lead.
“They can’t stop you Corn,” Paul Oliver said from the sidelines as he watched the game.
Then the rest of Apply Pressure came alive. Carter nailed a three-pointer followed by Harris with a layup and Nguyen with a floater than an assist to Shields for another basket. Shields finished to lead all scorers with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. McIntosh finished with 12.
With the game four score 55-43 and two minutes left on the clock, the Dream Team conceded.
Game five came down to whether McIntosh and Ammons could beat a complete team. In the first half, the Dream Team jumped ahead 5-0, led by Ammons who scored four points.
Apply Pressure responded with three pointers. Fournette nailed one trey and Kai Williams made two more. The half ended with Apply Pressure leading, 22-19.
Ammons had 9 points followed by Vines with six, while McIntosh only scored 5 in the first half.
In the second half with 17 minutes left in the game, Apply Pressure had a scare. Starting point guard Kai Williams went down on a strain ankle. He had to sit out for the rest of the game, but he wasn’t worried.
“I knew they could pull it off; our backups are starters,” he said.
In his place went in Nguyen who won the Intramural League championship last year on the team Kingdom Warriors.
McIntosh came to life in the second half for the Dream Team, but Ammons went cold. Meanwhile, Apply Pressure got contributions from everyone on the team.
Nguyen nailed a corner three. Marcel Williams followed with a layup, that put Apply Pressure up 46-42.
With 1 minute and 40 seconds left on the clock, Ammons scored to put his team within two at 49-47.
With Apply Pressure killing the clock, the Dream Team employed an intentional foul strategy.
Shields made two free-throws, increasing the lead.
McIntosh responded with a floater over the defender for the and none, as he missed the free throw but brought his team to within two at 51-49 with 1:16 left on the clock.
Fournette answered with a jumper, putting his team back up four.
Ammons shot a three that clacked off the rim with 53 seconds left.
“And that’s y’all season,” remarked Gee Wilson, an Apply Pressure advocate.
Wilson went on the court and celebrated the win a bit too early.
The referee gave Apply Pressure a technical foul for the premature party.
“This is over with; I could back flip and cartwheel on the court and it wouldn’t matter,” Wilson said.
McIntosh made the free tech shot, which kept hope alive. However, Fournette closed the game out with four straight clutch free-throws.
Fournette led Apply Pressure with 14 points, Shields 10, Harris 9 and Kia Williams 7.
“They’re real competitive,” Harris said. “They complicated this win. They’re good at switching their game up, they have shooters and they know how to play the paint.”
McIntosh finished game five with 19 points and Ammons added 16. The next highest scorer was Vines with 6 points.
League Commissioner Ishmael Freelon named McIntosh and Fournette co-MVPs of the season and Williams MVP of the finals.
For Carter the win meant going home on top.
“This was my farewell season,” Carter said.
He paroled four days later a champion.
Wives, fathers, girlfriends, sons, fiancés, brothers, and old friends surrounded an outdoor basketball court bordered by barbwire to experience the community atmosphere at San Quentin State Prison during its first annual All-Star game. The team picked by Quentin resident Allan McIntosh won 94-87.
“When you guys bring your family in here, that means a lot,” Brian Asey, general manager of the SQ basketball program, said. “You brought in people that you care about to see the people that you care about. It’s a testament to what we’re doing in here.”
Robert “Bishop” Butler, who paroled seven months earlier and visited to attend the game, added, “I spent 13 years on this yard. It’s like a family reunion.”
Butler was one of the four formerly incarcerated men that returned to attend the game.
Community member Griffin Reilly, a former overseas pro, brought his fiancé, Olivia Mountz.
“He (Reilly) told me he could bring family in and I wanted to come and see what he was doing in here,” she said. “I was a little scared at first because of my expectations but it was fun. Everyone was really nice.”
After her outing at the prison, Mountz added that from now on she will have a lot less prejudgment.
Normally when Reilly visits to play basketball at San Quentin, he plays against the Warriors and/or the Kings 40 and over team.
On Oct. 6, members of every community team in the basketball program – Prison Sports Ministry, Imago Dei, Lincoln Hill, Trailblazers, Shoe Palace, Bittermen, SQ Kings and SQ Warriors – were invited to take part in an all-star game, complete with play-by-play announcing and a rap half-time show. The outside community members were allowed to bring family members and girlfriends inside with them to watch friendly rivals suit up to play on the same teams with incarcerated men. Former pros and college hoopers played side-by-side with street ballers.
“It was a dream come true; the best part was that I didn’t know who was free and who was incarcerated,” Geoffrey “Free” Gary (Trailblazers) said. “That’s the dream and beauty of basketball.”
Green Team sponsor Patrick Lacey, a Claremont- McKenna alumni, who brought his mother, father and girlfriend, suited up for McIntosh’s team, the SQ Lakers, although they were coached by Ceasar “C-Money” Mc- Dowell, who normally heckles him every time he plays against the Warriors.
“I’m pumped about this,” Lacey said. “I’ve been playing against these guys for six years. I’m going to set so many screens for (McIntosh).”
“All his (McDowell’s) tough love was just toughing me up for this moment,” Lacob said with a smile on his face then added, “(McIntosh) as a GM would give Bob Myers a run with that team that he put together.”
The other members of the Lakers were David Liss, Jon Williams, Dan Wohl, Nick Newman, Ben Bergsma, Anthony Ammons, Mark Stapp, Steve Lamb, Tom Tunny and Tyrrell Price, Sr.
“We had the school yard picks,” McIntosh said. “The guys I picked were the guys I enjoy playing with. The decision wasn’t talent only.”
SQ King Oris “Pep” Williams, the oldest player on the court at 57, acted as the team captain for the Warriors. As teammates he picked Reilly, Teohn Conner, Erv Anderson, Dejon Joy, Ryan Steer, Jamal Harrison, Damien Crosby, Dominique Thompson, Rafael Cuevas, Ian Ashcraft-Williams, Tevin Fournette and Danny Brown.
For the day, Jeff “Hoov” Heitman (Trailblazers) coached the Warriors.
“It was his first career loss as a coach, but today wasn’t about winning or losing; it was a celebration of the program,” Steer (Trailblazers) said.
However, nobody told the players the game was just a celebration. Both teams played with NBA finals in- tensity, showing out in front of family and friends starting with a basketball skills challenge.
Gary won the skills challenge by dribbling through cones, making a free-throw and throwing passes in the fastest time of 19 seconds.
“That’s because I’m here,” Gemma Mondala, Gary’s lady friend, said.
Gary added, “She’s my inspiration. I’ll be darn if I bring a cutie like that and don’t show out. I have to show what I’m working with.”
In the first quarter, with Reilly, Conner (a former ABA semi pro player) and SQ Warrior Fournette starting, the Warriors appeared to be too much for the Lakers. The Warriors jumped out to a 23- 10 lead.
In the second quarter, the Lakers took the lead by raining three-pointers. Liss (Prison Sports Ministry), and Gary nailed two each. By half-time, the Lakers led 43-42.
“We came out soft,” Patrick Lacey said. “Coach Ceasar yelled at us a bit and we got it going. It was a big comeback – we had to get the win for coach Ceasar.”
At half-time, the formerly incarcerated men who returned as productive citizens spoke.
Danny Cox played for both the Warriors and Kings before paroling five years ago. On the outside he struggled his first two years but read the bible every day and received support from the people he once played basketball against in prison. Now he works at Tesla as a shift leader.
“This program has blessed us immensely,” Cox said. “All these cats don’t just articulate, they demonstrate if we need them. Who does everything they can to come into a prison? They love you, give them love back.”
Timothy “Detroit” Long returned wearing a Detroit Lions jersey. The former SQ King now teaches at Five Keys Charter school.
“It feels great to be back; it gives cats an opportunity to see success from a man who did 26 years,” Long said. “You can get a job. Ain’t nobody out here going to look at you funny.”
As an alarm sounded, Aubra-Lamont “Coocoo” McNeely, a former SQ King, who returned dressed in brand new Jordan basketball sneakers, an Echo hooded shirt and black shorts, emphasized the difference between now and a few years ago.
“I ain’t got to get down no more; that’s over with,” he said, referring to the rule that every incarcerated person has to sit on the ground when an active alarm, signaling that a disturbance is happening somewhere at the prison, sounds.
McNeely advised the guys that they should seek to parole to the San Francisco area because the city offers formerly incarcerated people lots of support. McNeely has two jobs including working for a homeless shelter.
Prison Sports Ministry sponsor Bill Epling commented that his goal is to see everyone who plays for the program parole and never come back. Then he gave Don Smith all the credit for recruiting him to be part of the program.
Smith responded by reminding Epling of the time he blocked his shot.
Larry Blum, of Blum Inc, who donated $7,000 worth of San Quentin Kings and San Quentin Warriors t-shirt to be sold to raise money for the San Quentin Honor Guard and athletic programs attended the game. He proudly wore a San Quentin Kings t-shirt.
As the second half started, Trailblazer Aidan Coffino, sat on the bench wishing an injury didn’t prevent him from playing. Next to him sat his father Michael, who played for City College of New York back in his days.
“I figure I’ve been talking about it for so long,” Coffino said. “It’s one of those experiences you can’t describe. He’s given me basketball and so I’m giving him this day from one basketball lover to the next.”
Michael commented, “This is amazing, inspiring. There’s so much hope in here.”
The hope M. Coffino referred to was evident on the faces of the men serving life sentences yet still included in the community. However, the Warriors’ comeback attempt as hopeless as Wohl, who played pro in Israel, went off in the second half.
The Warriors, who were ahead as much as 15 in the first half, found themselves behind 13 points with under two minutes left in regulation.
Steer nailed a three to close the gap to ten. Then the Warriors fouled to stop the clock as Reilly tried to put them on his back. He scored seven points in the final minutes but the Lakers kept making enough free-throws to keep the lead and win the game.
Reilly led all scorers with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Conner added 16 points and 10 rebounds followed by Fournette with 11 points.
Five Lakers scored in double digits. Wohl scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and 2 assists. McIntosh added 19 points, Liss 16, Lacey 13 points with 13 rebounds and Gary 11 with 8 boards.
“It was a great experience,” Williams, whose team lost, said. “The atmosphere with them bringing their people in was real nice. I’m hoping this is the beginning of a great tradition.”
-Vincent Turner and Gemma Mondala contributed to this story.
The visiting Lincoln Hill basketball team took the San Quentin Warriors into over- time but fell short, 77-66.
“Great game; one of the best games we had,” Lincoln Hill center Dominique Thompson said. “A lot of lead changes—tight until the end.”
Lincoln Hill, named after the church of pastor Miguel Rodriquez, visits the court on the prison yard more to win over souls than to win the game. In fact, Rodriquez had just returned from a trip to Japan, a country he says is less than 1 percent Christian, to spread the gospel. Still, Lincoln Hill goes hard every game and this time they almost won against a team that had just defeated Golden State Warriors staffers a few days prior.
The Warriors jumped out to an 18-5 lead after the first quarter, but Lincoln Hill climbed back after they heated up in the second half. With five seconds left on the clock, Lincoln Hill guard Ramon Ronquillo made an inside pass to Thompson, who made the basket to take a 25-24 lead into the break.
Both teams gathered at center court for a message about seeking help to change from Lincoln Hill coach Cornell Swain.
“We can’t grow in isolation or on our own,” Cornell said. “We need a connection. Grow within the fellowship of brotherhood. Don’t be a weed, be a rose.”
First year Warriors guard Emerald Kemp-Aikens, who played for McClemmonds High School, addressed the guests about what the basketball program means to him. “I don’t get visits and I don’t go to church, so this is my church,” he said. “I got caught up in the streets and now I’m trying to make the best of it.”
“You guys have us worried right now,” Cuevas said. “Nobody plays harder, and nobody prays harder than you.”
In the second half, the lead went back and forth as Warriors veteran Allan McIntosh turned his jumper up. He ended up leading the Warriors with 24 points.
With eight minutes left in the game, the Warriors were down 52-46.
“We have to hold this lead; you know how that third quarter is,” Thompson said.
McIntosh hit a jumper and followed with a three
With 2:30 on the clock Ronquillo put Lincoln back on top with a spin move past two Warriors for a layup that made the score 59-57.
With 47 seconds left of regulation, Lincoln led 65- 63. The Warriors trapped and caused a turnover.
The ball went to McIntosh inside and the smaller Cornell fouled to stop the easy basket. McIntosh nailed both free throws for the tie at 65- 65 with 18 seconds.
The Warriors defended the paint hard as Ronquillo tried to get to the rack. He dished the ball to teammate Chaze Russell, who shot a three-pointer. It clacked off the rim.
“We were stomping on y’alls neck but y’all came back,” Cornell said. “This is the best basketball that we play because we know it’s all love. We all family. A mil- lion fouls and we don’t get mad.”
“They came out firing in the OT, and we weren’t ready for that,” Thompson said.
“I don’t get visits and I don’t go to church so this is my church”
Warrior Montrell “Jack That Thing Up” Vines scored seven of his nine points in a row during the extra period. Warrior Delvon Adams followed with another four points as Lincoln Hill went cold.
“I love them (Lincoln Hill), man; every time they come in, they bring their energy and fellowship,” Vines said. “I think Dom is comfortable here. He plays more aggressive.”
“It was tough because everybody had to learn how to play with each other,” Outsider Sponsor John Brewster said. “We played as a team and it went pretty flawless.”
While most people were away celebrating Labor Day, eight basketball players— members of the Trailblazers, Green Team, Outsiders and Lincoln Hill—showed up on the Lower Yard to en- joy a game against the Kings 40-and-over team.
“I thank God for you sharing your light with us,” Kings assistant coach Ishmael Freelon told the visitors. “This is an outlet for us.”
The game was scrappy. Both teams tied at 19 to closeout the first quarter.
He wasn’t alone.
Chaze Russell, another Lincoln Hill player, tied the score at 34 with a three- pointer just as the ref blew his duck whistle, which signaled it was halftime.
The game came down to the final minutes. The Outsiders pulled ahead 70-62 after Russell nailed another three with 2:50 left in regulation.
The Kings came back. Jamal Harrison made a lay-up despite being fouled, but missed the free throw that followed.
King Tare “Cancun” Beltranchuc went to the rack and got fouled as he scored. He went to the line with Kings down one at 75-74 and missed the free throw that would have tied the game.
“I think we both hit the ball, but he had a fingernail on it more than me,” Thompson said.
The ball went to Beltranchuc and he took a short- range jumper that went in then bounced out of the rim.
Geoffrey “Free” Gary, who normally plays with the Trailblazers, grabbed the rebound.
“Refs still couldn’t give them the game,” Gary said.
The Kings fouled immediately. He made one of two free-throws and left the Kings with two seconds on the clock, down 76-74.
A desperate last second shot missed and the Outsiders got the win.
“Pep (Williams) played big,” Gary said. “Robinson had some big rebounds and put backs.”
For the Outsiders, Gary dropped 16 points with 12 rebounds and Russell added 14 points, with four steals, four rebounds and an assist.
All involved showed they have game.
“It feels good playing with people my age; there’s unity in this,” King Harrison said. “It’s a good experience.”
Several graduate students from the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) tried their hand at basketball against the San Quentin Kings 40-and-over team. The Kings outmaneuvered them to a 54-50 victory.
“When they heard about the games here, they wanted to come,” said Ben Draa, the Stanford graduate student who arranged for his class to play basketball against the Kings. “I also wanted to recruit more guys to the regular team.”
“SNY [Sensitive Needs Yard] …comprises roughly half the California prison system,” according to Lody Lewn in the Prison University Project Spring 2018 Newsletter Volume 13, No.1
Draa used to work for the Golden State Warriors and was the first person to bring Assistant GM Kirk Lacob into San Quentin to play basketball. That led to Golden State GM Bob Myers playing in annual games against San Quentin Warriors. Last year Draa resigned from Golden State to go back to college. San Quentin hadn’t seen him in a while.
On June 2, he returned with an array of fresh faces that you would never expect to see in prison.
“(There is) a nation-wide push to investigate overdose deaths as homicides and seek tough prison sentences against drug dealers and others deemed responsible.” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Friends of Overdose Victims Become Prosecutor’s Targets” Dec. 18, 2017
While the 6-foot-6, 32-year-old Chou Hoytt is a local, many of the Stanford first-year GSB students were from places as far away as Greece. They were given a warm welcome on the Lower Prison Yard.
“I’m happy to be here,” Aris Kostanginidis, a native of Greece, said.
“Corruption within the California state prison system cannot be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman to NBC San Diego regarding the indictment of a 23-year CDCR veteran caught smuggling heroin and meth into prison. https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/San-Diego-Prison-Guard-Accused-of-Smuggling-Drugs-into-Prison-475486693.html
His teammate, the 6-foot-3 and 27-year-old Jake Kneller added, “I loved it. Everyone is so warm and welcoming.”
Then the ball inbounded.
The Kings, who were 0-6 prior to tip off, had two players playing for the first time this year. Former point guard and Warriors Coach Rafael Cuevas made his debut as a King. Additionally, Kings power forward Thad Fleeton returned from an injury.
“I feel great just to be able to run up and down the court with my team,” Fleeton said.
The GSB team held their own against the Kings with Kneller snatching boards and Ben Akinbola, a brother from Philly, displaying athleticism.
“64% of California’s jail population is awaiting trial or sentencing as of December 2016.” Most remain in pretrial custody because they cannot afford bail. Jail Profile Survey, http://www.bscc.ca.gov/
However, neither team scored very much and the Kings played great defense, finishing with 17 steals. The half ended with the Kings up only 28-23.
“We’d like to give you guys an idea of who you’re playing against,” Kings GM Brian Asey said at halftime with both teams gathered around midcourt.
Referee and former King Antonio Manning shared news that the parole board had just found him suitable for release after serving 24 years, 10 of them at San Quentin.
“What this (basketball program) means to me is community. You guys are family and you coming in here gives me encouragement,” Manning said. “I’m going to take this experience out to society with me.”
Akinbola shared next. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be cool, to be good in school, to be good at basketball, but none of that matters unless you have a good relationship with Christ.”
Akinbola led both teams in prayer as each man had a hand on his shoulder or that of the person closest to them.
In the fourth quarter, with 2:37 left to play, the Kings were down 47-43 until Oris “Pep” Williams nailed a three pointer.
On the next possession, Kings guard Joshua Burton took the lead with an up and under lay-up that made the score 48-47.
As the time ran down, GSB tied the score to surge back.
Andy Pringnitz hit a three in the face of a King defender with 38 seconds left in regulation. That made the score 52-50 Kings.
GSB intentionally fouled Williams to stop the clock and he made one of two free throws.
GSB got the ball back to Pringnitz, but Cuevas mugged him for his sixth steal of the game.
“We won because of Rafael (Cuevas)—he’s a big factor and a stabilizer for us,” Kings Coach Orlando Harris said.
Again GSB fouled Williams, who made one of two, which made the score 54-50.
Pringnitz launched another three, which missed. The Kings got the rebound and ran out the final few seconds for the win.
“I can’t speak right now,” coach Harris said. “First win against Stanford. I’m feeling good right now.”
Kneller led GSB with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“They have old-man strength and they hustle,” Kneller said about the Kings’ key to victory.
Pringnitz had 11 points and Kostanginidis added 9.
Tare “Cancun” Beltranchuc led the Kings with 10 points and three Kings added 7 points each: Trevor Woods, Burton and Williams.
“It was a team win,” Fleeton said. “That’s what makes the win so sweet—they’re 20-something-year-olds.”
GSB’s Nelson Iginla said, “We’ll be back.”