Harlem Ambassadors leave ’em laughing in charity fund-raiser.
Laughter, loud music, cheers and the sound of pounding feet rang from the Wilson Dome on the Payson High School campus Tuesday night.
Inside, the Harlem Ambassadors happily slaughtered the Payson All-Stars in a co-sponsored event presented by the Friends of Rim Country Gila Community College and Friends of Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
The stands filled with children of all ages, their parents, grandparents, and supporters of charities throughout Rim Country.
Organizers sold more than 850 tickets to the charity basketball game.
John Wakelin, an event organizer, said the two co-sponsors worked to include other Rim Country charities. “The whole idea was to spread the wealth,” said Wakelin.
“If any charities sold tickets, they received a dollar for their cause and the concession stand was split between the event sponsors and PAAL (Payson Association for Advanced Learners).”
The game had four quarters with the second and fourth quarter “fun” and the first and third “serious,” said Wakelin.
The Harlem Ambassadors not only play basketball, they deliver a show.
For example, during the second “fun” quarter, Harlem player Selethia Jackson, No. 00, had an impromptu wrestling match with Wayne Morris, No. 25 on the Payson team. Morris played for Chitwood Cabinets.
Jackson got Morris locked on the ground while referee Tim Fruth counted down enough seconds to signal a wrestling win.
Jackson then paraded around the court holding a thick leather and gold buckled winner’s belt and danced to Kool and the Gang’s song, “Celebration.”
That went on until the ref called a foul against Jackson and gave Morris the chance to do free throws.
Everyone lined up to watch Morris throw, as any team does in a game.
But unlike a normal game, as Morris went to toss the ball, Jackson tickled him. The ball bounced off the edge of the basket and the crowd laughed. When Morris turned around to confront Jackson, she looked away.
He lined up to throw his second shot. As he tossed, she tickled him again. The crowd roared as the music played.
Besides staging a good show and raising money for scholarships, organizers commemorated the 1979 Class B State Champion basketball team. According to a Roundup article on display, the ’79 team won the first ever-state championship for Payson.
Four players from that team attended the raucous event, Farrell Hoosava, Tony McDaniel, Beau Bobier and Jerry Willis.
Town luminaries such as Mayor Kenny Evans, Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce manager John Stanton, and Roundup publisher John Naughton supported Payson All-Star players from the sidelines. The team included Cameron Davis, director of parks and rec, who played for the Good Samaritan Society; Stephanie Landers, KMOG radio personality; Carrie Dick, partner in the Kevin Dick Investment Management Group; and Jake Swartwood, Payson High School football coach, who played for ERA Young Realty.
Sponsors for the event included Gila Community College, KC’s Home Health Care, Kevin Dick Investment Management Group, the Payson Unified School District and others.