The Valley Boys, nine basketball players from Marin, came into San Quentin and beat the Warriors 81-75 in a thrilling game that came down to a blocked shot and last-minute turnovers.
“It was awesome, a good opportunity for everyone to have fun,” said Valley Boy Skylar Chavez, who led all scorers with 23 points, mostly off pull-up jumpers. “On top of that, we got the win.”
It was the first time the Valley Boys played basketball inside a prison. The team included three former players from the Drake High School team that went to the State finals in 2014. Jasper Verduin organized the team in response to a call-out by Warriors Coach Rafael Cuevas.
Jasper’s father, Jacques Verduin, created the Guiding Rage Into Power (GRIP) program, in which Cuevas is involved. GRIP teaches inmates how to control anger.
“I’m really glad this finally got done,” Cuevas said. “They brought in a really talented group. We lost to a good team, but it’s a good day because the program grew a little today.”
Jacques said, “This game brings my professional life and personal life together in a way you couldn’t have more fun.”
Jasper, who interns for GRIP, played for Drake.He was the No. 2 scorer when Drake went 26-8 before falling to Chaminade in the Division III California Interscholastic Federation State Championship finals.
“He (Jacques) asked if we wanted to give it a go and course we said ‘yeah,’” Jasper said. “We formed a super team to come and beat the Warriors.”
Wearing black jerseys donated by an Italian restaurant called the Loft at Vinantico, the Valley Boys took the court on a clear, sunny July 21 game and took the lead.
“They came in with no fear and played their butts off,” Warrior Anthony Ammons said.
In the first quarter, Dane Wells, 6-foot-5 Drake alumni, caught a pass under the rim, went up strong and dunked on two Warriors for a 13-7 lead.
Wells finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists.
The Warriors came back to within one point at 16-15 when the duck whistle signaled the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Warrior Dejon “Dago State” Joy gave his team their biggest lead of the game with an up and under reverse layup to make the score 28-22.
Joy finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and a block.
The Valley Boys responded. Colin Carmody hit a baby hook that impressed Aaron “Show Time” Taylor, the play-by-play announcer. Taylor gave Carmody the nickname “Vitamin C.”
At the end of the second quarter, the Warriors were up 35-34.
Both teams circled up at half court to share a few words and pray together.
Warrior Tyrrell Price, Sr. talked about his growth over the 10 years of his incarceration.
“This journey has been a lot of ups and downs,” Price said. “I learned to be conscious because being unconscious of the consequences of our decisions and uncontrolled anger got me here. I thank God we get a chance every time we wake up to fulfill our purposes.”
While the teams warmed up for the second half, Eric “Maserati E” Abercrombie played an original song about identity.
The fourth quarter decided the game, while Taylor kept the crowd laughing with comments like, “Ooo, that was a hard foul. He’ll be getting a 115 (disciplinary infraction) for that play.”
With the Warriors down two points with 1 minute and 10 seconds left in the game, Veteran Warrior Allan McIntosh, who scored 20 points from off the bench, mostly with his jumper, went up in the face of Chavez.
Chavez blocked the shot and recovered the ball. It was his fourth block of the game to go along with 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists and 23 points.
“I knew he’s a shooter; I knew what his move is and anticipated,” Chavez said. “If he would have pump-faked, he would have had me.”
McIntosh responded, “It’s crazy I was thinking pump-fake him, but in the moment, I thought I was by him.”
Valley Boy Beau Keeve, who plays for College of Marin, increased the lead 2 more points from behind the free-throw line.
Warrior guard Delvon Adams turned the ball over twice in the last 40 seconds.
“He played well early; he had a bad two minutes,” Cuevas said.
The Warriors fouled to stop the clock.
Chavez nailed both free throws, which increased the lead to 81-75.
“Basketball is fun,” Chavez said. “If it was little bit of happiness for everyone, then that was all good.”