Rivals join up for senior classicPublished 10:14pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Friends, but mostly former rivals, took the court together on Saturday in the second annual Hampton Roads Top 20 Senior Classic High School Basketball Games at Heritage High School.
There was a boys’ game and a girls’ game. Suffolk was represented on the boys’ side by King’s Fork High School’s Jacorey Smith and Byron Taylor, who teamed up with Nansemond River High School’s Ed Drew and Kendric Washington and players from the Beach and Eastern district. That team defeated a team of Peninsula District players 92-91 on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Landstown’s Cameron Austin.
Heritage basketball coach Daniel Brown’s company, Guiding Young Girls, sponsors the event to express gratitude to the athletes.
“The basis of the game is to say, ‘Thank you for all the sacrifice and commitment you’ve made over the last four, five, six years, because you wanted to be a college basketball player,’” Brown said.
For players who have not yet secured college scholarships, the event also affords them an opportunity showcase their skills once again.
“We take the DVD of the games, we send it out,” Brown said.
Additionally, the Empowerment and Uplifting Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization within Guiding Young Girls, is responsible for presenting the games and aids in athletes gaining scholarships.
“We do it through our nonprofit, because we give scholarships through that,” Brown said. “All the money that’s generated from the game, we provide scholarships.”
Jacorey Smith, who has not committed to a school yet, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after a 24-point 11-assist effort. He shared what it meant to be able to play in the game with the area’s elite players.
“It was an honor,” he said. “I appreciate playing. It was very fun to play with the different Peninsula guys and everybody from our team.”
Byron Taylor, who had 13 points, echoed Smith’s excitement about the opportunity, saying that it “felt great to be able to play in the game that I know the top players are playing in.”
Another unique element of the games that Brown described was the chance to play with the members of rival teams.
“It was just a way that we could bring 20 graduating seniors together, let them play in the game, they get to meet new friends,” he said. “They’ve been competing against each other for so long, they don’t always stop and take time and get to know each other.”
Taylor said it was great getting to team up with Drew and Washington, who were the members of the archrival Warriors squad that defeated the Bulldogs during the regular season.
“During season, we’re like rivals,” he said. “And then, getting to know them, actually knowing they’re great guys and stuff, it’s just good. Good experience.”
Drew had 16 points, and Washington had nine points, including what Brown called “the play of the game: an open-court, step-for-step dunk on a Peninsula player.”