Harlem Ambassadors visit White River

By Kristan Krogman

The “high flying, hoop defying” Harlem Ambassador basketball team brought their world renowned form of entertainment to Barnhart Gymnasium in White River last week. The Ambassadors faced the local Range Roamers in a contest that offered more than just basketball.

The Range Roamers, featuring locals Troy Krogman, Eldon Marshall, Tom Cameron, Rich Crow Eagle, Derek Clairmont, Josh Krogman, and Marc Marshall, gave the Ambassadors some stiff competition through the first quarter, relying on their accurate three point shooting abilities. 

The Ambassadors turned their attention to the kids at the quarter break, offering a heated game of musical chairs. “Everybody up. Minus a player, minus a chair,” repeated the Ambassadors after every round before Quincey Piper was declared the winner. A “cool walk” was required before Quincey could claim her prize.

Having claimed the lead late in quarter one, the Ambassadors went to the air in the second quarter, opening with a slam dunk that brought cheers from the crowd. More three pointers came from the Range Roamers, but that didn’t sit well with the Ambassadors’ show leader Cherie Hughes. With two minutes remaining in the half, she turned to another sport, WWE wrestling to subdue the opponent. An incident at half court late in the quarter left Range Roamer Troy Krogman on the short end of a take down and pin and Cherie the self-proclaimed WWE World Champion... and with a gold belt to prove it. Troy was awarded free-throws by referee Casey Piper, but the Ambassadors had the last say. They scored on two quick dunks before the clock expired. They led 46-37 at halftime.

The kids were front and center at halftime with a relay race. Navigating through a course of pushups, situps, scrambled shoes, dribbling, and shooting, Alexandra Becker netted the first basket for the win. The Ambassadors inspection found Alexandra “really cool” and after perfecting her “cool walk” she earned an autographed photo. The entire crowd was then invited to the court for a lively rendition of DJ Casper’s “Cha Cha Slide”. The young folks in attendance were especially versed in the dance and everyone returned to their seats primed for the second half.

Joe Cameron earned an autographed photo as the lucky drawing winner between fast paced action in the third and fourth quarter. The Roamers’ preference for shots from beyond the three point line and the Ambassadors’ advantage inside, made for entertaining basketball. Accurate shooting by the Range Roamers kept them in the game, they were down just six, 82-88, at one point in the fourth period. Accustomed to multiple threes by almost every member of the Roamers’ squad, a missed three ball by Rich Crow Eagle left the announcer exclaiming, “He actually missed a shot!” 

With time winding down and the result still in question, Cherie had had enough. “I’m tired of playing basketball. I want to play football.” She proceeded to line up the two teams for a game of football, but before the ball was snapped, a dance-off broke out. Each team member squared off against their opposing defender and though it was unclear who had the advantage in the area of rhythm, the Ambassadors got the score when the football was finally implemented. They scored with an exclamation and ended the game at 96-85.

In addition to basketball, comedy, music, skits, and interactive games for the whole family are central in the Ambassadors’ performance, and they are proud to offer a form of entertainment that everyone can enjoy. Members of the Ambassador team are selected based not only their basketball skill, all members have college basketball experience, but also based on their healthy character and drug-free lifestyles. They work to spread a positive message and it is important to the organization that members of the team can serve as role-models to the youth that they so often perform in front of.

The Harlem Ambassadors have been touring since 1998. During that first year they performed 30 shows. Since that first tour, the group has expanded to include two travelling units that do over 200 shows per year. The Ambassadors also do foreign tours and have performed in places from Iceland to Japan to Puerto Rico. The group that was in White River also performed in Lemmon, Pierre, and Eagle Butte while in South Dakota.

Following Wednesday’s game, the Ambassadors presented the White River Lions Club with a special certificate recognizing them for sponsoring the game and for all the work that they do in the community. The Ambassadors also took time after the event to sign autographs and take pictures.

 Box F, White River, SD 57579 • 605-259-3642 • mcnews@gwtc.net

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