PHILADELPHIA, PA –
When you hear the term “all-star” you think of the best players in a particular sport. For 30 years now, Philadelphia’s Organized Labor has brought you the best boys and girls senior players for the City of Philadelphia, the surrounding Suburbs, and South Jersey – and the event on Sunday April 9th was no different.
But the All-Star Labor Classic is much more than just a typical all-star game. The event has been one of the biggest fundraisers in the area to support the fight against Cerebral Palsy. During the intermission between the girls and boys all-star basketball games on Sunday at Philadelphia University, a representative from the Labor Union presented Blossom Philadelphia, formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia, with a check for $150,000. This adds to a combined total of about 3 million dollars that has been raised by the 30 All-Star Labor Classic events over the last three decades.
The first of three games played at the beautiful Gallagher Center, off of Henry Avenue in Philadelphia, had members of the sports media squaring off against members of the labor union. This game is always close with friendly competition and has a very special tradition to end the game.
With the score 51-50 in favor of the sports media with 3.7 seconds remaining, an official’s timeout was called. The labor union had a major substitution – five-year old Kayla Collier Jones – who has cerebral palsy. The game resumed with the ball handed to Kayla as she then proceeded to head down the lane towards the basket with a walker to assist her. As she slowly approached the vicinity of the basket, members of both teams lifted her up above the rim, ball in hand, and she slammed the ball down through the bucket for the game-winning score, giving the labor union a 52-51 victory.
This is a moment cherished by all and a tradition done every year with an individual who has been unfortunately stricken with cerebral palsy. This year it was five-year old Kayla, and she left the court to a standing ovation.
The headline events of the day were the girls and boys all-star basketball games, which pinned the best seniors from the City of Philadelphia against the best seniors from the surrounding Suburbs and South Jersey. The girls were up first and the city team got off to a good 12-7 start thanks in large part to Imhotep’s De’jah Williams, who scored nine of her 13 points of the day in the first eight minutes of the game. But the Suburbs then went on a 20-0 run and ultimately took a 35-17 lead into the locker room at halftime.
While the City started off the second half with three three-pointers – two from Lexi Hnatkowsky of Penn Charter and one from Olivia Keyes of Franklin Towne Charter – the Suburbs were able to keep their distance from the City team and come away with a 53-40 victory. Caitlin McMullan, out of Wildwood Catholic High School, led the way for the Suburbs with 14 points. Jess Huber and Sam Carangi, both former North Penn Lady Knights, had solid games as well with 9 and 8 points, respectively.
In the boys game, the first half was neck and neck and the City and Suburban All-Stars were tied at 38 going into the halftime break. But the second half belonged to the Suburbs, and with a balanced scoring attack, earned an 85-67 win. All 17 players on the Suburban roster scored in the game and only one player, Hatboro-Horsham center Clifton Moore, Jr., was in double-figures with 10 points.
On the City side in a losing effort, Daequan Plowden of Mastery Charter North put on a show and led all scorers with 18 points. He made some three-pointers from the outside, some jumpers inside the arc, and had a couple thunderous slam dunks that got the crowd going at Philadelphia University. Plowden also had several stellar defensive plays including a few steals and a couple emphatic blocked shots.
Even though the Suburbs won both games on Sunday, the real winner is Blossom Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s Organized Labor put together three great games, raised money for a good cause, and made it a memorable day for all in attendance at the 30th Annual All-Star Labor Classic.
(Photo Credit: Wave Lane)
Game 1: Media vs Laborers
Game 2: All-Star Girls Game
Game 3: All-Star Boys Game