As the showpiece event for Game Time’s basketball bonanza which witnessed five schools finals, the Celebrity game was a nice way to round off a great day for basketball. Never before has so much attention been focussed on promoting such a high profile event for schools basketball and the response from schools and parents was fantastic with, on average more than 150 people watching each final and over 250 people watching the Year 11 final between Norton School and High Tunstall, including the Mayor of Redcar & Cleveland and the celebrities who were very impressed with the event and the standard of the two teams.
For the main event, over 400 people turned out to watch the Celebrity game and were in for a real treat as the Celebrities pushed the professionals all the way. At half time there was more entertainment from PSD crew member; Gizmo, a Turkish break dancing champion who wowed the crowd with his moves. On top of all the entertainment and the finals was also the charitable element and Game Time have chosen to support The Whizz Kids charity for this event in association with Mecca Bingo Stockton.
The Game Time team were joined on court by young competition winner, Matthew Morrish who is 8 years old from Carlin How, East Cleveland. The competition winner for the Celebrity team was Alan Slasor who is one of Game Time’s rising stars and showed he can handle the big stage, finishing the game as top scorer with 29 points. The twin models, Kirby & Fallon were unable to participate in the game due to illness but were there in support of the Celebs and were happy to meet their young and older fans!
The game got underway with the Mayor of Redcar & Cleveland throwing the ball up for the tip off. 5’3″ celebrity; Kirby was pitted against 6’10” giant, Andrew Marshall who unsurprisingly won the ball and found the running Daniel Cooper for the first 2pts of the game. The Celebrity’s were quick to respond though as Alan Slasor fired in his first shot to tie the game. Cooper again found the net with a long range shot but the Celebs kept up with the pace to take the lead through Slasor and speedway star; Gary Havelock who converted a shot from under the basket.
Principul, the energetic R&B performer started well for the Celebrity’s as he stole the ball twice and set up the running Havelock for his second shot of the game. Havelock was looking dangerous on both offence and defence and Game Time would have to keep a watchful eye on him.
Game Time edged back into the lead as sharp shooting Cooper hit a nice 3 pointer which was then reciprocated by big men; Andrew Marshall and Wayne Bailey to take a 15-8 lead. In the seventh minute young Matthew Morrish extended Game Time’s lead by 1pt from a successful free throw. Celebrity player/coach; Jaycie Hall provided some confidence with two well worked baskets, one after bouncing the ball off Game Time player/coach; James Thomson, who then returned the favour by dribbling on his knees and scoring the following two baskets to maintain an 8pt lead, 20-12.
Alastair Brownlee was happy to pick up a lose ball in the ninth minute and continue his dribble the full length of the court although he was unlucky in missing his shot, which seemed to bounce in and around the rim before coming out.
At the mid way point of the first half Rob Bryson broke free for the Game Time team to slam home an athletic dunk to the appreciation of the cheering crowd. Bryon added one more basket to take Game Time to 24-14 but a terrific period from the Slasor led Celebrity team produced a 10-0 run to tie the game. Slasor knocked down 8pts while Hall added a nice shot from just inside the key.
The feathers of Game Time were now being well and truly ruffled, but they stuck with entertaining the crowds, Adam Walsh and Thomson making impressive shots but it was the Celebrity team who would go into half time with their heads held high and a 1pt lead over the professional coaches of Game Time, 30-31.
During half time PSD performer; Gizmo produced some spectacular break dancing, which was followed by a dance routine from the Stockton Parent Support Cheerleaders, who gave a great contribution throughout the event. Then it turned to competition time as people from the crowd entered the knock-out comp, with Matthew Brown winning the over 14 category and Alex Bailey winning the Under 14’s. Both winners received a big basketball prize bundle.
The second half saw Slasor pick up where he left off as he collected the first basket with a nice lay up and the Game Time team contemplating playing harder defence on the youngster. After initial baskets from Thomson and young Morrish, who was ecstatic to have scored a basket, Rob Bryson and Daniel Cooper shared the majority of Game Time’s points and in the seventh minute big man; Andrew Marshall was momentarily side tracked as the Macarena began to play and Marshall started dancing at the centre circle. His Macarena and break dancing attempts brought delight from the crowd and the players although the Celebs kept their focus to keep scoring the points.
From the eighth minute onwards the lead changed a massive 13 times with both sides trading baskets. The solid defence of Alastair Brownlee and Anthony Vickers should have carried a health warning as both Celebs gave their all to ensure they had the best chance of winning. A clattering by Havelock on Thomson in the tenth minute brought one of the few fouls in favour of Game Time with the ones against the professionals seeming to come with a big grin from the officials!
With Slasor on fire and Game Time stuck in entertainment mode, the Celebrity’s crept ahead first by 1pt, 48-49 through Havelock as he converted a fine shot off the backboard, then by 3pts as Slasor collected his 29th point after a lay up, then by 5pts as Havelock again found the net with a two handed power lay up. When Game Time looked at the score, they were down 7pts, 48-55 and with less than a minute on the clock, time was running out in what was finishing as a great and exciting climax to the game. Bryson hit a 15 foot jump shot and Walsh weaved his magic through the celebrity defence to pull back 4pts, but time was slipping away. In the final seconds Cooper found the cutting Thomson who hit the final shot, but it was not enough as the cheering celebrity’s earned a 3pt win, 54-57 and bragging rights for the next year.
All the players from both sides enjoyed a great day and the event was thoroughly entertaining with great skills, shots, athleticism and even the bloopers on display to ensure everyone went home happy and looking forward to the next event.
The Most Valuable Player award went to the 29pt performance of Alan Slasor, the 13 year old competition winner for the Celebrity team who was on form all night, providing a valuable asset to the Celebrity cause. Game Time are now considering reducing the age limit of the celebrity winner to 5 for next year’s game!
Not only was the tremendous support beneficial to the players on court, the event was also in support of the Whizz Kidz charity, with a donation of over £200 being made to Whizz Kidz via Mecca Bingo Stockton, who have chosen Whizz Kidz as their charity for the year and aim to raise £9,000. The organisers would like to thank everyone who helped produce the event and all the supporters who came along and contributed to a fantastic day. A special thank you to Steve Lynas & Gordon Barnes, who refereed the event.