By BEN TINSLEY
GEORGE WEST (Tx.) — Hundreds of fans crammed into a local gym March 26 to witness a ground-breaking game of basketball between the George West Longhorns and troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
It was an intense hour of play. Four quarters. Two teams. A full game with two referees. A DJ playing music throughout the game. Even a special DVD created to announce each and every player.
“Everyone was into it,” explained Texas DPS Cpl. Raul Garcia. “Everyone was cheering. There was electricity in the room.”
The Horns were up 20-6 over the Troopers after the first quarter of play, and 27 to 15 over DPS at halftime, according to the George West Athletic Booster Club Facebook page.
The final score? 52 to 33. George West won, but members of the Boys Club of Live Oak County were the real victors with $3,000 in donations raised from residents and local businesses, authorities said.
At least 250 people were there in the stands to watch the exciting game. George West was represented by mostly varsity boys–but also varsity female Erin Snider.
The DPS troopers were known area lawmen from throughout the George West and Beeville area.
Cpl. Garcia said he and his colleagues came up with idea specifically as a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls clubs of Live Oak County.
The game, as far as troopers know, was the first of its kind in this area.
“I’ve been here five years and not seen anything like that,” Garcia said. “This was a tradition in the making.”
As word of mouth about the game got out and about, the DPS troopers solicited area businesses to donate items to raffle off during the game–Yeti Ice chests, stream light flashlights, Igloo coolers (filled with goodies) gift certificates from Longhorn Carwash, Road Runner Quick Lube, Dairy Queen, Churches, MG’s, T-shirts from the GW Booster Club, and even a flat screen television.
Donors included Pinnacle Energy, Nabors, Live Oak Trailer Sales, Talisman Energy, Carlos Rojas and Leticia, Robert and Beatrice Duke, and Schneider and Mc Williams.
In the spirit of suspense, there even was a surprise donation–a $1,000 check to the Boys and Girls Club presented by Kameron Harless of Texas Energy.
The game was so successful and so well thought of, it has already spawned a sequel.
Toward the end of April, these DPS members intend to engage the Longhorns baseball and softball teams in an extensive softball game–also to raise money for charity.
If it continues to be successful, troopers might try to engage players in areas such as Three Rivers for similar fund-raising events, authorities said.
One truly interesting moment of the game, the corporal said, was the underdog effect. He said the crowd started cheering for DPS because they were losing so bad to the Longhorns.
“You have no idea how intense this whole thing was,” Cpl. Garcia said. “It was an amazing game. At the end we had a raffle for expensive coolers and T-shirts. Everyone was into it.”
Reporter Ben Tinsley works for The Progress newspaper in Three Rivers, Tx. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 361-786-3022. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BenTinsley or on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.