Locals make the score to top the professionals|[4/03/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Using a disciplined fast-break to run with better-known athletes, a team of 10 locals held on in overtime to beat the pros 109-102 in the Vicksburg High gym Sunday.

The And 1 Streetball Explosion, presented in part by the Vicksburg Police Department, featured the traveling streetballers in an exhibition game.

The And 1 players routinely travel the nation just before their regular summer tour begins in June.

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Many of the locals were chosen from scrimmages held Saturday and had Vicksburg connections and had at least some professional experience, mostly in the Continental Basketball Association or the American Basketball Association.

One of them, Anthony Lumpkin, 27, who has ABA experience, said he stressed to his teammates before the game the importance of playing together in the face of the And 1 crew’s high-flying and sometimes comical antics.

&#8220I just told them we know they’re going to do that because that’s what they’re paid to do. We’re just going to come out and try to win,” Lumpkin said.

The And 1 hoopsters did not disappoint in the entertainment category.

Jamar Davis of Mount Vernon, N.Y., known on the tour as &#8220The Pharmacist,” displayed his dribbling prowess and brought the crowd of about 150 to its feet by bouncing the ball off Jonathan Phelps’ head on his way to a driving layup.

On another occasion, while being fronted by Phelps again, Davis removed Phelps’ jersey with his left hand and drove around him with his right on his way to an assist.

Two breakaway dunks in the final minute of the first half by Taurian Fontenette of Hitchcock, Texas, known on the tour as &#8220The Air Up There,” put the And 1 players ahead 43-38 at the break.

Midway through the second half, a 13-2 run highlighted by Lumpkin and a 3-pointer by Jason Walker brought the audience to its feet again and put the locals ahead 66-59.

Frustrated by tight second-half defense played by Lumpkin and Walker, &#8220The Pharmacist” found the right prescription for pulling the pros back ahead, a few alley-oop passes to &#8220The Air Up There” resulting in a back-and-forth final minute that ended with the score knotted at 98.

Steady shooting and defense by the Vicksburg locals put the issue to rest in overtime.

The style of play seen on the And 1 tours has its roots in the free-wheeling, high-energy basketball first popularized on big-city playgrounds in the 1960s and 1970s.

The tour sponsors programs at high schools in 20 states and 20 nations worldwide and tours seasonally. In between tours, such as Sunday’s exhibition and another played by the pros Saturday in Yazoo City, some of the players play local talent in selected cities.

Its roster of athletes in the United States has been featured in recurring specials on ESPN and in its line of footwear and other apparel launched during the tour’s decade-long existence.