About Last Night… WOOGA!

So I’m running a lil’ late… I have program that works with incarcerated teenage males in Vineland, New Jersey. These are my guys… They love to read, watch and talk about sports. We were finishing up a discussion on whether or not they could work for Temple University and convince vocal opponents of the proposed Football Stadium to accept it’s placement square in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

They understood the issue of gentrification, they understood displacement and empathized with the position of the long-time residents. They wouldn’t want the traffic, the tailgating, the partying in their neighborhood. The fully grasped the ethical and moral dimensions of the debate.

But, unanimously… For the right amount of money, they indicated that they would work relentlessly to help Temple change the minds of the stadium opponents…

Love my guys… They keep that shit REAL!

So, they tell me to hit the road, they want me to go cover the Public League Semifinals and it’s a 45-50 minute drive from Vineland to South Philly.

Off I go…

I get there a little after 6:00… Late but not too bad… I’ll only miss a couple of minutes of action. So I thought…

Amazingly, I see a car pulling out of the lot as I pull in… PERFECT! A parking spot in the school lot… Cool…

You can feel the energy in the air… Nisine Poplar (Wooga) is playing… as I approach the door, it becomes apparent that it’s gonna take a while to get in… The line is LONG… Well over 100 patrons waiting to catch the action.

So I settle in and inch toward the door… The line is moving slowly but steadily…

The familiar aroma of “loud” lingers in the air… It smells rather enticing I might add… Tempted to ask the youngins where they purchased that particular brand of cologne, I demur…

Not the right time or place…

Finally, my group of ten is prepped for passage through the metal detectors… I hand the school officer my keys and iPhone… I let the young woman with 5 kids go before me, then I walk through the machine… No beep! I’m good… I feel just a lil’ bit safer…

As I enter the gym, it’s PACKED!

It’s also beautiful… The School District of Philadelphia has polished the playing surface. The hardwood is glistening… You can hear the shoes squeaking as the players stop, cut and change directions… The lights are ALL functioning, (almost) no missing bulbs… The stands are fully extended and every available seat is occupied!

The PUB!

As it should be… It feels as though the School District actually cares about athletics… I’m impressed.

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Stacey Dandridge from Darby Township and Chillyock from South Philly

Then I look at the scoreboard… Imohtep is up 15 in the middle of the second quarter… I see my man Stacey Dandridge (Sta-Dan) from Darby Township… Like a lot of Darby Township guys, Sta-Dan has developed an affinity for South Philly and South Philly Basketball. It makes sense to see him sitting in the front row.  He tells me that Imhotep has employed a gimmick “Box and 1” defense against MCS. Wooga and his teammates were having some difficulty adjusting.

To my left, I see my Southside homies… Sam Wylie, Sr., Shon Minnis, Butter and Bunky… I settle in amongst them to watch this thing play out.

Sam, Sr. is watching Sam, Jr. play a GREAT game so we kinda leave him alone… He’s in a zone…

The rest of us watch MCS, claw, scrap and fight their way back into the game.

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Truth be told… It was the “other” guys that got MCS back into the game… Tvon Jones used his incredible athleticism and explosiveness to attack the rim, Naadhir Wood consistently caught the ball and finished when the team needed buckets, Zakee Fleming exhibited and very good understanding of basic basketball principles as he repeatedly got the better of bigger, faster and more athletic Imhotep front court players.

It was a real rumble…

Imhotep star, Elijah Taylor fouled out with Imhotep clinging to a 4 point lead with 1:20 remaining in the contest. Seemed like the Panthers would survive…

After all, Wooga had struggled throughout the game… The game plan was clear from the start… Imhotep Head Coach Andre Noble was going to make someone other that Wooga beat him. The Panthers face guarded Wooga anytime he was not in the locker room or on the bench… Relentlessly…

Still…

With Imhotep clinging to a 3 point lead, MCS had the ball and called timeout with about 11 seconds left in the game…

Everyone in the gym knew who was gonna take the shot… Mayor Kenney knew who was gonna take the shot… President Trump knew who was gonna take the shot… Marcus Garvey knew who was gonna take the shot… Harriet Tubman knew who was gonna take the shot…

Clark Kent had been mild-mannered for 31 minutes and 38 seconds…

If MCS was gonna pull this one out, they needed Superman to find a phone booth and put on his cape…

Well… Look up in the sky MUTHAFUCKA!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

On cue, Wooga ran his man off a Naadhir Wood screen, Marcus Middleton got him the ball… the Imhotep defenders were there… They challenged the shot… It wasn’t a good shot… I was a tough well-defended off balance 3-point attempt…

SPLASH bitches!

Superman is in the building…

Tie game… The overtime was a mere formality after Wooga’s heroics. With that, MCS finally vanquished the mighty Imhotep Panthers.

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MCS Coaching Staff after win over Imhotep

Congratulations to Head Coach Lonnie Diggs and his hardworking staff. Can’t wait til Saturday… The defending PIAA AA State Champions will have their hands full with a well-coached Simon Gratz Bulldog squad.

The PUB!

 

 

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