Wizards Provide Dynamic Hoop Display at BHS Gym
The Harlem Wizard players joined in with the Bellingham Blackhawk All-stars and young fans for a group photo during their fund-raiser game at the high school gym on Oct. 22.
Gallery: Harlem Wizards [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
The Harlem Wizards came to Bellingham on October 22 and entertained a crowd of 750 fans at the high school gym with high hoops and alley oops, slams and jams and other basketball trickery. The six Wizards faced the Bellingham Blackhawks All Stars, a team composed of teachers, administrators and staff members from Stall Brook and South Elementary schools, the Memorial Middle School, the Paul J. Primavera School and three participants from the high school. The final score, not surprisingly, was a 103-93 triumph by the highly-skilled Wizards, who’ve been competing around the country as an organization for 54 years.
The Wizards wowed their audience with an abundance of dunks, cunning back-door baskets and an assortment of long-range jump shots from a variety of angles. When they weren’t scoring, they were conducting a plethora of fun-filled exercises and challenges for the youngsters in the crowd. The Wizards’ lineup consisted of David Paul, Arthur Lewis Jr., Robert Young, Derek Braxton, Nigel Byam and Dexton Williamson.
“We’ve been to all 50 states and places like China, Germany and Jordan,” said Lewis, whose name on his uniform is King Arthur. “We’re the second oldest entertainment basketball team in the world, second to the Harlem Globetrotters. We enjoy bringing old-school entertainment to all ages.”
The event was a PTO elementary school fundraiser that generated revenue for upcoming projects at Stall Brook and South. Ericka Hill was the organizer for the event, which had every seat in the gymnasium’s bleachers filled.
Brent Crayton and Gabbi Constanzo, who play on the boys and girls varsity teams at the high school, competed for the All Stars and expressed their delight at being chosen to compete in such a highly enjoyable event, which featured basketball stunts involving children, who were rewarded with Wizards memorabilia. “The Wizards are incredibly talented,” Crayton said. “They’re amazing. I really enjoyed being part of the show.” Constanzo concurred, saying, “I loved it and was impressed with the Wizards’ athleticism. It was also nice seeing the young kids get excited.”
The Bellingham All Stars from Stall Brook included Principal Carolyn Rafferty, Jill Berard, Jill Bouchard, Anne Donahue-Boddy, Laurie Clinton, Amy Youkilis, Maria Eydenberg, Michelle Hohmann, Laurie Jason, Monica Rigamonte, and Colleen Hafford. South Elementary participants were Principal Judi Lamarre, Tanya Lamereux, Josh Lechter, Alyssa Perry, and Ben Hafford. Principal David Cutler was the Primavera School’s representative while the Memorial Middle School featured Amanda Ghostlaw, Meg Streichert, Amy Kindl, Tracy Dorcil, Lauren Cassidy, Kimberly Goulet, Amanda Michaud, Douglas Bonney and Karen Phil. Megan Populou, an assistant coach for the high school’s varsity girls team, also played.
Reaction from the schools’ staff was understandably positive:
“This is the second time I’ve played against the Wizards,” said Meg Streichert, a fourth-grade teacher at the middle school. “It’s fun to…see the kids have so much fun. It’s also nice to see former students cheering us on.”
“It was great for all the schools’ staffs to join in for the event,” said Maria Eydenberg, an art teacher at both Stall Brook and South. “It was fun and it raised money for the two elementary schools.”
Primavera School Principal David Cutler enjoyed every minute of the evening. “It was like one big family affair,” he said. “The Wizards stopped by our school during the day and were part of an assembly.”
Mike Drake, a Bellingham resident and former athletic director and coach at Blackstone-Millville Regional High, was the official timekeeper. He admired the way the Wizards involved the crowd. “They did a fantastic job of creating fun and excitement,” said Drake. “They choreographed their routines in a neat way.”
The game opened with Williams and Braxton scoring on a layup and a dunk for a 4-0 lead. After the first quarter, the Wizards enjoyed a 21-12 advantage. The halftime score was 35-16 favoring the Wizards. When the Wizards agreed to let the All Stars get credit for 5 and 10 points for each basket, the score was 79-all after three periods. The Wizards, however, dug down deep and ended the night on top.
Fans, young and old, mingled with the players after the game for pictures and autographs. Borrowing a slogan from the Wizards van, the players and fans had a “slamtastic” time.