Story by Molly McCluskey • Photos by Jeff Brady

At first, it seemed to be the type of basketball game that could have been played on any court in any school across America. The songs were the same; the hip-hop dance music designed to enthuse the crowd. The uniforms were the same; T-shirts and shorts. The smell was the same; popcorn and sweat. But it took only a moment to realize that this was a different type of game altogether.
It wasn’t the music, but the dancing that gave it away first. It wasn’t the uniforms, but the players in them, a few years past high school. The smell, of course, remained the same.
The Skagway School hosted the Harlem Ambassadors Dec. 15th for a series of events that included not only an evening basketball game against local residents, but also an in-school anti-drug rally. The rally covered an array of topics from the importance of staying in school to treating others with respect.
Says Superintendent Michael Dickens, “The Ambassadors had a very positive message. The kids really seemed to respond to them.”
The community really seemed to respond to the basketball game between the Ambassadors and several members of the Skagway community. It was an interactive affair, full of the types of antics one would expect from the team famed for their on-court maneuverings.
The Panthers were not without antics themselves. Free throws were interrupted by do-si-dos from both teams, and two members of the Panthers executed a very Ambassador-esque through-the legs-pass. The game was full of spontaneous dancing and flirting, and on more than one occasion, the Ambassadors simply lay down on the floor to take a little rest.
The Skagway team held their own against the Ambassadors, although of course were gracious hosts and allowed the visiting team to win in the end. – MOLLY McCLUSKEY

From top left, referee Tasha “P” Payne whistles Krataura “KB” Buckner for trying to grab Charlie Frizzell’s shorts before he shoots a free throw; James “Five” Stokes throws down a dunk in front of Chris Wassman; and Kaylie O’Daniel dances with the team.