Harlem Wizards best Scorpions of Camarillo in benefit game

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© Joseph A. Garcia/VC Star
Jay Greenlinger (left), principal at La Mariposa School, tries to get the ball from James "Road Runner" Tyndal of the Harlem Wizards during a fundraiser game against the Scorpions of Camarillo on Wednesday at Camarillo High School. © Joseph A. Garcia/VC Star
The Camarillo High School gymnasium was packed Wednesday night as the entertainment basketball team Harlem Wizards faced off against the Scorpions of Camarillo.

Despite generously adding an occasional 10 points to their score, the Scorpions lost the all-in-fun game 109-87.

The game was a fundraiser for the Camarillo High School Class of 2012, which is raising money for senior prom next year, said Cathy Schienbein, a parent volunteer who organized the event with fellow parent Susan Uchiyama and teacher-coordinator Julie Riedmiller.

Before the game, Scorpion assistant coach Mike Smith, the high school’s athletic director, outlined the team’s strategy.

“We’re going to full-court press them. We’re going to set a fast tempo, running and gunning and wearing them down physically,” he said, laughing. “You mean in reality? Whatever the Wizards want to happen will happen. I think athletically they might have a little edge, but I wanted to stay positive.”

The Scorpions of Camarillo team was made up of Camarillo High School teachers and members of the community, including Sheriff Geoff Dean and radio personality Bo Jaxon from B95.1FM.

Dean said he wasn’t too worried about being dominated by the professional team.

“Humiliated? You must have seen me play,” Dean joked, adding that he was playing because both of his children attended Camarillo High.

“And I want to help the other kids. Education is the key to success and with the budget cuts, it’s tough. I want to do anything I can to help,” he said.

The New Jersey-based Harlem Wizards travel the United States and help local organizations with fundraisers. They put on a show reminiscent of the better-known Harlem Globetrotters, complete with dazzling dribbling and dunking demonstrations.

Veteran player/coach Eric “Broadway” Jones said the three Wizards teams put on five shows a week.

“This is all about fun, where the families and community can see their teachers, radio personalities and other people they know. People can anticipate having a good time,” Jones said. “The best teams are the ones that understand this is a show. We want them to see their local people in a different light.”

From the moment the Wizards were introduced, with David “DP” Paul literally sweeping Scorpion player Nichole Pinedo off her feet, it was obvious the game wasn’t going to be regulation basketball. Wizards announcer Jamel “The Voice” Thompson immediately bestowed nicknames on the Scorpions. Kelli Luna became “Barbra Streisand,” Alan Sadowsky was renamed “Joe Pesci” and Dennis Riedmiller was dubbed “Paul Bunyan.”

While the Wizards engaged the crowd in their hijinks, interrupting play to kiss one woman on the cheek at one point, they also displayed some amazing feats on the court, performing slam dunks, reverse dunks and the crowd favorite, the two-man alley-oop dunk.

Ezekial Silva, Jacob Kyriacou and Ahren Quddus, all 10-year-old students at La Mariposa School, laughed and cheered as their favorite teachers attempted to get in the occasional basket. Ezekial said his favorite player was Rashan “Rocket” Varner, while Ahren said his favorite move was the reverse dunk.

Schienbein said the total raised from the evening had not yet been tallied. Hiji Brothers Ranches of Oxnard paid the Wizards’ fee, so all money from ticket sales and raffles will go to the Class of 2012.

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