Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs
Sports Editor 

Thriller in Malta


Pierre Bibbs

Teagan Erickson (middle) struts down the court with Harlem Ambassadors Eric Wright Jr., Nicholas "Spin" Simpson, Brittany Dorsey, Michael Wilkes and Melvin Dolberry after winning a relay race last Saturday at the Ambassadors- Hi-Line Has Beens game held at Malta High School.

If you chose to stay home on the night of Monday, May 2, you may have missed a great candidate for game of the year as a bunch of local heroes - the Hi-Line Has Beens - took on the Harlem Ambassadors at the Malta High School gym.

The PCN caught up with Ambassador forward Alexander Wright Jr. after the game.

"Tonight went really well," Wright said. "There was a lot of participation by all of the kids and the kids had a great time. Our passion is kids. We want to get the kids involved."

The Ambassadors were in Phillips County not only wowing the 1400 at the basketball event but also sending positive messages to Phillips County schools on Monday and Tuesday.

"We went to a couple of schools today and had some assemblies," Wright said. "A lot of the kids from the assemblies came out to the game today."

For not having played an organized game together the Has Beens put on quite a show as they not only refused to get blown out, they lost by a respectable amount as Harlem won 92-89.

"They did very great," Wright said of the Has Beens. "They have some shooters. I think there were some guys that used to play at this school that played tonight and they did really well. We had to win though."

Near the final seconds of the game Has Been Katharine Webb fouled dunker D'onte Woods with a football like tackle, a move that ultimately sent Woods to the free throw line. The foul would seal the game.

When asked if Webb's tackle had affected the outcome Wright said no.

"We are 18 and a half years and 0 (undefeated)," he said. "So we don't lose. We win. We always win."

One Has Been was Coach Nate Hammond who has coached the Malta M-ettes to two perfect seasons in a row. He was asked about his team's performance. He felt he let the team down.

"I think we would've done a little better if my agent would've let me play a few more minutes," Hammond said. "I feel like we didn't run the offense very well either."

The teams started off pretty evenly matched minus the rim rattling slam dunks by the Ambassadors. In the second quarter, Harlem started pulling away leaving the score 41-27 at halftime.

"It's pretty fun," former Mustang Zach Handley said. "We're not playing that good on defense but I think we can in the second half."

Handley was known for being pretty clutch during his high school career where he helped lead Malta to back to back state titles in 2012 and 2013 but he wasn't too upset that his team fell behind.

"I knew it was just going to be a show for the community, something that Malta would be appreciative of," Handley said. "It's just fun to be a part of."

Former Saco-Whitewater Panther standout Annie DePuydt who was also on the Has Beens shared her thoughts at half time.

"When Jake Stuart asked me to play I was like, 'heck yes!'" she said. "I knew I would get to play with all of the great Hi-Line alumni basketball players so I just knew it would be a good time."

She wasn't discouraged by the fact the team was down.

"It's a pretty close game," she said. "I think we need to play a little harder on defense but we will see."

To her credit DePuydt didn't seem fazed by the fact that many of the Ambassadors were over six feet tall including Patric Massey, who stood at 6-9 and Michael Wilkes who stood at 6-8. There were times however taking a step away was a wise choice as the Ambassadors threw down some nasty 360, tomahawk, between-the-leg type dunks.

"They've had some pretty decent dunks on us," she said noting that the dunks were a highlight to her.

So what did she do when an Ambassador would storm down the lane for a posterizing dunk?

"I'd have little panic attacks," she said with a smile.

She admitted to having to face some pretty tall athletes in her collegiate career with the MSU-Billings Yellowjackets.

"Yeah but not that big," she said of the Ambassadors.

Though they were behind, the Has Beens caught a huge break as show performer Brittany Dorsey spotted the Has Beens a 15 point lead at the start of the half, on one condition; the crowd had to get LOUD!

And after a thunderous minute long shout from the crowd shook the arena the Has Beens had regained the lead. It was then 56-41 in favor of the Has Beens.

Though the team had some great long range shooting from Travis Somerfeld and Jake Stuart coupled with nice inside shooting from Jesse Simonson, DePuydt, Amber Erickson and Hammond, the Ambassadors kept storming back with monstrous alley-oops and clutch shooting from Woods.

The Ambassadors would eventually come back to win 92-89.

Pierre Bibbs

Harlem Ambassador D'onte Woods performs his "Superman" dunk late in the Ambassador- Has Beens game held at Malta High School last Monday, May 2.

Even though the home team lost, the crowd was in great spirits enjoying every bit of the show.

Afterwards the Ambassadors stayed at Malta High to sign autographs an event that took an extra hour.

The Ambassadors were gracious for the chance to come to Malta.

The Harlem Ambassadors would like to extend a special thank you to event organizers Dina Sainato-Meneely and Travis Rhoads who planned and promoted the event. The Malta All-Stars were energetic and enthusiastic opponents and we thank all of the players for their good sportsmanship. This event would not have been possible without the support and generosity of local community sponsors, the Malta Chamber of Commerce members, and the event volunteers.

The Harlem Ambassadors thank the community of Malta for its warm hospitality and look forward to returning to Malta in the future.


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