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Jeremy Jeffers and Dalton Ford, if nothing else, are good copycats.
So when Ford saw stakeholders from the Rocky Mount area start an alumni basketball game in August featuring former players from Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, Ford wanted the same for Wilson.
Throw in Jeffers’ idea to schedule the event around the Christmas holiday and use the occasion to raise money for gifts for needy families, and For the Love of the City was born. Scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Fike High, the inaugural event will kick off with an all-star women’s game featuring combined rosters from Hunt, Fike, Beddingfield and Greenfield beginning at 4 p.m.
Two showcase alumni games will follow, with Hunt facing Beddingfield at 5:30. Fike-Greenfield closes the proceedings at 7. Adult tickets are $10, while youth tickets for those age 17 and under are $5.
“After that transpired, we decided to put it into action and it kind of took off once we put it out there,” Jeffers said of “I just wanted to bring everybody together. It’s basketball season, so I felt like the people would be excited about a basketball game. We’ll be giving the gifts away to the families at the game.”
Via donations through social media, a goal of $2,000 was set for gifts to needy families, a mark that has already been hit.
Jeffers will play for Greenfield in the showcase, while Ford plans to suit up for Beddingfield. The list of those expected to play include, but aren’t limited to Jean Best (Beddingfield), Tramicka James (Fike), JalessaHarper (Fike), Brian McNair (Greenfield/Barton), Sam Hughes (Greenfield), Brian Richardson (Greenfield), Jeremy Atkinson (Fike), Monquel Pegues (Fike) and Spencer Hinton (Hunt).
“It took some work, but it wasn’t as hard as people think it is,” Jeffers said. “We just assigned captains, so we had different captains for each school. They were responsible for reaching out to the players. They had a deadline to enter by, and it wasn’t that hard, to be honest. “I guess it was harder to pick the families that we’re going to be helping this Christmas, and actually getting the facilities and the referees and all that kind of stuff. But the players were the easy part.”
The women’s all-star game will be two 20-minute halves with a running clock, while both men’s games are scheduled for four 10-minute quarters. Jeffers stressed the importance of the competitive aspect, but wanted to make the game long enough for every player on the roster to get at least a few minutes of playing time.
Traditional high school rules will apply, including fouling out.
“Everybody’s been talking like they’ve been getting in shape, but it’s a little different when you get up and down that court!” Jeffers said.
Although it’s the inaugural event, Jeffers and Ford hope that For the Love of the City can become an annual pre-Christmas tradition in Wilson, including the rotation of sites to ensure home-court advantage. A championship game between the two semifinal winners has been discussed for the future, but for players who have logged plenty of basketball miles, back-to-back games on the same day could be a tall order.
Nevertheless, the alumni concept readies for its first Wilson experiment.
“I want to try to keep this going when everybody comes home for Christmas, this will be something that they look forward to doing,” Jeffers said.