For a good cause

April 2, 2013

Cody Leist

PDT Sports Writer

Since 1962, the Harlem Wizards have toured throughout the country, bringing their game and entertainment show to a variety of communities throughout the United States.

Recently, these performers have showcased themselves at Minford High School and Shawnee State University. On Wednesday, the Wizards will be at Portsmouth High School to play against the Scioto County All-Stars in a benefit game that will see the proceeds go to the Portsmouth girls basketball program as well as the Special Olympics of Scioto County.

Portsmouth girls basketball coach Tyson Phillips, who has been at the forefront of this event, is glad to be a part of tomorrow’s festivites.

“This is for everybody, you don’t have to be into basketball, you don’t have to be a big basketball fan because this is really good entertainment.” Phillips said. “A lot of fun, a lot of humor, the Wizards will come in and do a great show for us.”

The Scioto County All-Stars will include PHS boys basketball coaches Ty Davis and Shane Rhea, PHS volleyball coaches Sarah Barney and Emily Smith, Notre Dame basketball coaches Joe Smith (boys) and J.D. McKenzie (girls), New Boston basketball coaches Paul Wagner (boys) and Jon Estep (girls), West girls basketball coach Greg Maynard, PHS basketball players Izzie Sturgell, Dasia Kennedy, Jayllen Carter and Connor Lasswell, Special Olympics basketball players James Charles, Josh Trowbridge, Rebecca Chaffin, Issac Breech and Justin Sanford as well as Harcha Book and Beck’s Todd Book, WNXT’s Steve Hayes and yours truly.

PHS coach Gene Collins and Special Olympics coach Rita Arthur will be in charge of the team while Devon Houghtalen, Abigail Purtee, Gabby Collins and Maddie Grashel will be the cheerleaders.

Yes, you read one final name in that list that could make you laugh. I will be stepping out of “retirement” for a charity game for the first time since I was a high school senior in 2006.

Let the jokes about the ungainly sports writer begin…

But in all seriousness, I’m glad to be a part of something special such as this. Community involvement is essential when it comes to making an area a positive place for present and future generations.

The doors at Portsmouth High School’s main gymnasium will open at 6 p.m. with the game to follow an hour later. The game will be setup like a normal high school game, with four eight-minute quarters. The Wizards will perform for the crowd during halftime.

Phillips said the night’s performance by the Wizards will be similar to the Harlem Globetrotters. This will be a long day for the Wizards as they will have visited the Vern Riffe School, East Elementary, New Boston City Schools and Portsmouth City Schools before the game for a series of assemblies.

Presale tickets will be available at PHS until 3 p.m. but tickets will still be available at the door. For students, presale tickets will be $8 and $10 at the door while adults can enjoy $10 presale and $12 when they arrive. So far, Phillips estimates 200 presale tickets to have been sold and hopes to see at least 500 people in attendance.

“We’re kind of nervous with this being our first event with the Harlem Wizards and here at Portsmouth High School,” Phillips said. “Julie Monroe at the Vern Riffe School helps out tremendously and we’re about to be a part with them as hopefully we can make this bigger and better as we move forward.”

Merchandise will be available for purchase throughout the evening. After the game, the Wizards will be on hand to sign autographs and interact with the children in attendance.

Phillips hopes those in attendance will walk away with the same emotions during the Wizards’ prior two stops into the area.

“From talking to a lot of people that were involved with those two games said that everybody in attendance really loved the show that they put on,” Phillips said. “A lot of fun and a lot of excitement for the kids, the families and the community.”

So if you have a free Wednesday evening, come out and support the kids in a great cause.

At the very least, watch and make fun of me as I labor up and down the floor, wishing I had hit the gym more frequently.

Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294 or cleist@civitasmedia.com. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.