The Harlem Wizards vs. East Haven
It was a major success and EHPS teachers from the whole district volunteered to play in the game. They played against the Harlem Wizards as well as volunteering behind the scenes for things like concessions and tickets. 33 teachers played against 6 of the Harlem Wizards.
The Harlem Wizards are a group from New England who put on a show when they play basketball. They are known for their tricks and acting scenes. The Harlem Wizards had 6 players; King Arthur, Dragon, Road Runner, Top Flight, Smooth and Springs. While Springs did play in the game, he was only a temporary player for the Harlem Wizards. He is a professional dunker and scored many points during the game.
The Harlem Wizards brought their own MC who started the game by getting everyone pumped up. School spirit was high as he introduced the East Haven team. When the Harlem Wizards entered the court everyone was standing, cheering and laughing. They brought a well planned act and they were very engaged with their audience.
The game started off with a toss up between the two tallest players from each team; The mayor of East Haven, Joseph Carfora and Top Flight of the Harlem Wizards. The mayor was the first to act and as soon as he grabbed the ball, started dribbling the ball to the home side of the court. As the ball went to Superintendent Erica Forti to Principal Vincent DeNuzzo to the Mayor, East Haven kept missing the basket. Smooth kept catching the ball and giving it back to East Haven until they scored their first points. Once the home team scored, the Harlem Wizards took the ball to their side of the court and scored immediately. They went back and forth for a while before Erica Forti tried to score 4 times before she made the fifth one. The game progressed and the Harlem Wizards were running literal circles around East Haven. Near the end of the first quarter the timer stopped and Dragon brought an audience member onto the court. He danced with her for a little before he turned her around and pulled out a ring. Unfortunately the woman had a husband and the husband pushed Dragon to the floor before the timer started again. When the game resumed, Assistant Principal Anthony Russell scored in the last minute of the last quarter. The 8 minute quarter ended with the home team scoring 21 points and the guest team scoring 19 points.
The second quarter started off with Smooth passing the ball to Springs and he dunked the ball immediately. When the scores were equal for a while, King Arthur went and danced on the bleachers with the crowd. As they made it halfway through the 2nd quarter King Arthur, in the element of their act, collapsed. The team tried a lot of things to get him back up and going. Road Runner stole a shoe from a kid in the crowd and held it over his face; it didn't work. He tried to roll the ball in between King Arthur's legs but one of the other players stopped the ball before it injured him. The last thing that they tried worked. Road Runner bounced a basketball right between King Arthur's legs and King Arthur moved right away. The game continued and the teams kept goofing off. Road Runner ran off to get hand sanitizer to clean a kid's face while Smooth juggled 3 basketballs. Then they danced for a while before getting back to the game. The Harlem Wizards got right back into the game and dunked. They continued for a bit before a water break. King Arthur brought water over to Road Runner and tried to splash it on him. He moved out of the way at the last minute and the crowd got splashed. They both ran to the other bleachers and splashed another one of their players. The player that got splashed grabbed a kid and used their shirt to dry his face. They continued playing with one minute left and the Harlem Wizards were in the lead. Smooth passed the ball to their side of the court and he scored.
During half time the Wizards did a meet and greet with the audience. They were interactive with them and even took pictures with the kids for a while. When the halftime show started the Wizards got 5 kids to volunteer from the audience to play a game of musical chairs. However there was a catch. Before they could sit back down, they needed to score a point by putting the ball into one of the hoops. It continued to only one kid out on the court but they all got a signed picture of all the Harlem Wizards together.
The third quarter started tied between East Haven and the Harlem Wizards. They played for a while until the ball went out of bounds from one of the East Haven players. As the game continued the score was home 53 and guest 58. Ms. Li Martin, the EHHS HOSA teacher, scored one more point before the Wizards decided they needed a change of pace. They switched up the teams so that players 44 and 41 from East Haven were now playing for the Harlem Wizards and Dragon and Smooth were now part of East Haven's team. Due to this change, the teams had equal ability and they played like that for the rest of the third quarter. In the last minute Dragon scored for East Haven.
The fourth quarter did not consist of too much playing as everyone was dancing to the YMCA and the clock was still running. In the beginning of the game, when they did these little scenes they would stop the clock but as it was nearing the end of the night they kept the clock running. They partied with the crowd and the Harlem Wizards helped a little girl shoot a basketball. Smooth decided to go into the stands to dance with the crowd, elevating the spirits incredibly. Both teams continued to play while everyone was partying. The score was up in the 70’s for home and 80’s for the guests. When there were ten seconds left of the game, they paused the clock. They called the students out from the crowd by grade level until they reached highschool and called all the students onto the court. They turned the music up and the Wizards told the crowd to follow the leader. They danced to all kinds of high energy music and everyone was focused on the Harlem Wizards on the court. The Wizards won the game but East Haven won in high energy and spirit. Before the game started, senior at EHHS, Elijah Randall said, “I want to be wowed,” and it is safe to say that he, along with many others, were.
When the game ended kids were talking to each other and their teachers about how much they enjoyed it. While most people who attended the game expected the Harlem Wizards to win, they still very much loved seeing everyone interacting with each other. The whole job of the Harlem Wizards is to bring up spirits and they accomplished it. Top Flight told me that he loved his job because, “I get paid to play basketball and entertain kids and party.” They bring so much energy to their performance and the crowd showed it back to them. They play about 187 times a year all over America and their goal every time, according to Road Runner, is, “Happiness.”