Antics and shenanigans were in abundance at Louisa County High School on March 10 as the Harlem Wizards dropped in to play faculty and staff from Louisa County Public Schools.
Founded in 1962, the Wizards are a showman basketball team similar to the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. They travel across the country and around the world hosting events for local fundraisers.
Preparations for the event began last year and were a collaborative effort between the Louisa Education Foundation and the parent-teacher associations for the six Louisa County schools.
“It was so exciting to see so many children and families come out and have a good time,” Ava Pippin, LEF director, said.
Nearly 900 excited fans gathered in the gym to cheer for the LCPS All-Stars, to watch the Wizards play and to just enjoy the show.
“The energy was lovely,” T.J. “Tomahawk” Stukes, one of the Wizards said. “Usually, when there are this many people, the energy is lower because there are just so many people. Tonight the energy was up and that made us play better. We feed off the crowd.”
The Wizards took a 24-15 lead after the first quarter and extended that to a 39-25 lead by halftime. Coming out of the break, the Wizards spotted the All-Stars 24 points to give them a 49-39 lead as the teams played “competitive” basketball, in which the Wizards haven’t lost a game in more than 50 years.
The All-Stars held a narrow 63-59 lead over the Wizards after the fourth quarter, and the visiting team closed the gap in the final period for a final score of 77-71.
Ultimately, it wasn’t about the score as much as having a good time, a point driven home by the fact that the game ended with an impromptu center court dance party with both teams and all of the children in attendance.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lee Downey, LCHS principal and member of the All-Stars team, said. “[The Wizards] made it a great event for everyone. It was even more entertaining than I had imagined it would be.”
The Wizards were also complimentary of their opponents.
“They’re very good sports and they’re great people,” Stukes said. “It accentuates what we do when we have great people beside us.”