Positive rapport in Tigers’ overtime victory

Published 9:28 pm Monday, December 30, 2019

Students at Turlington Woods School in Suffolk played the Suffolk Police Department in a nail-biter of a basketball game on Dec. 20. It was a game that also helped to bridge gaps and build a rapport between the students and officers.

This rapport was built to the sounds of cheers throughout the Turlington Woods gymnasium, as people stood up on the bleachers with banners for the Turlington Woods Tigers.

It was a back-and-forth match between the Tigers and the Suffolk Police Department’s “Hometown Heroes” team, with hard blocks, quick passing and powerful rebounding.

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The teams were tied at the end of regulation, bringing the game to overtime. Turlington Woods junior Taevon Johnson, 17, made a free throw with just a handful of seconds remaining in overtime to bring the Tigers to victory.

“I was just trying to get my team up, you know, close out the game as quickly as possible to get everyone out of here and go home to their families,” Taevon said after the win.

It was a hard-fought win for the Tigers, but they pulled it off as a “family,” Taevon said.

“We all had some ups and downs, but at the end of the day we’re a family — we’re a team,” he said, adding that they’ll have an even better performance next time.

This was the third year that the Suffolk alternative school has hosted these basketball games, with proceeds benefiting the March of Dimes.

The school also hosted a game between the Tigers and the “Mount Suffolk Leads Team” earlier in December, which they also won.

The Turlington Woods students wore jerseys that featured the phrase “no excuses,” and they lived up to that mantra with another outstanding performance on Dec. 20.

“They’ve been looking forward to it,” said Colemon Watford, who coached the Turlington Woods roster that was organized for the game. “They had a good sweat on ‘em, took it to the big guys. They played real hard.”

Suffolk Police Sgt. Andre Sparks with the department’s Hometown Heroes said the Tigers were “well coached,” and gave his own team plenty of credit, as well.

“I think we played hard. It was a good game — went into overtime — and it was for good cause,” Sparks said.

The game served as both a March for Dimes fundraiser and as an opportunity for the students to get acquainted with police in their community.

“We want them to build rapport with them,” Watford said. “We want good, positive energy with the police department in the community, as opposed to a lot of the negativity going around out there.”