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Putting the 'fun' in 'fundraiser'
Globetrotters play local stars in benefit game

The Dog House gym at Thomson High School was packed with people of all ages when alumni members of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters visited to play a local team of community celebrities and former THS hoops stars last Saturday night.

As is the case often when the Globetrotters play local teams, they win and in many cases by a big margin. The Harlem Globetrotters defeated the Thomson All-Stars 101-69.

More than anything, the game was about fun and raising money to benefit the basketball program at Thomson High School.

"I think everybody had a great time; a lot of fun," said Thomson High School head basketball coach Michael Thomas. "We couldn't have done this without the help of the Thomson Walmart. Georgia Pressley, the store manager, really supported us. She said she was going to give back to the community and she did that in a big way."

Coach Thomas, who has coached basketball at THS since 1982, said it was pleasing to know that Thomson basketball "has now gone global."

Those familiar with how the Harlem Globetrotters entertain crowds know that they constantly are pulling off a variety of antics on the floor -- trying their best to get only one thing in return -- laughs. The latter came often.

Two of the Harlem Globetrotters, Larry "Gator" Rivers and Tyrone "Hollywood" Brown enjoyed clowning around on the court for the fans.

"They did a really great job of getting the crowd into the game and allowing everybody to have fun," said coach Thomas. "I really appreciate what everybody did to help us raise money for our basketball program. It really says a lot about this community."

The game's only referee was Jimmy Bolden, of Memphis, Tn., who does a lot of games throughout the Southeast involving the Globetrotters.

"I love getting out there and having as much fun as the players do," said Mr. Bolden. "This was a big crowd and they really got into it."

The game also was announced by a celebrity, Mike Glenn, alias, The Stinger , who is a broadcaster with Fox Sports South Network and a former NBA player with the Atlanta Hawks.

"I had a blast calling the game," said Mr. Glenn. "This was a whole lot of fun being able to come to Thomson."

Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry scored the first field goal of the game for the Thomson All-Stars after the Globetrotters opened the game by hitting a 3-point shot.

Usry and other local notables then went cold in the shooting department. After getting behind 9-2, their coach, Bob Knox, Jr. encouraged his team, saying, "Let's go. Ya'll ready?"

Other Thomson players included Walmart's own Gary Ramsey, Bobby Hildreath, Lt. Ed Lewis, McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton, Jay Jefferies and local elementary school principals Anita Cummings and Dr. Laura Hughes.

Newton had a rather interesting story to share later with a reporter.

"It was great to be on the same court playing against Tyrone "Hollywood" Brown, because I remember watching him play with the Globetrotters played at the civic center in Augusta when I was a little boy," Newton said. "I used to watch Hollywood play on the Scooby Doo Cartoon."

Ramsey, a former star basketball player at Thomson High School, later hit a free-throw to cut into the lead by the Globetrotters, making it a 9-3 game before coach Knox substituted a new team of players.

"Those are all preachers on the court, now," said coach Knox with a big smile.

The players consisted of Rev. Frederick Favors, Dr. John Ramsey, Rev. John Smalley, Father Bill Williams and the Rev. John Barnes.

Rev. Smalley later scored a basket.

"I just threw it up there and it went in," Rev. Smalley said.

Ramsey later got hot, too. He came through with two back-to-back hoops.

A nice pass from Hughes to Cummings led to another score for the Thomson team.

By halftime, though, the Thomson All-Stars trailed the Harlem Globetrotters, 41-15.

Coach Knox wasn't discouraged by his team's performance.

"They've done a wonderful job in scoring 15 points when you consider they were up against the Harlem Globetrotters,' coach Knox said. "I was especially impressed by the play of our preachers. I thought they played amazingly well."

In the second half, the game took on new life, as several former star players from the past hit the court for the Thomson All-Stars.

They included: Vonteego Cummings, Antrone Lee, Marcus Allen, Zavian Smith, Latterance Casey, Roy McGahee, Terry Hill, Jr., Kyle Murray, Pat Rogers, Octavious Mulligan, Quincey Ramsey and Glenn Mitts.

Cummings and Lee are professional basketball players.

Web posted on Thursday, July 29, 2010

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