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Second annual Pirate Madness packs house
Judging by the standing-room-only crowd, Pirates fans are longing for basketball season.
At the second annual Pirate Madness, fans, students and parents cheered for a variety of acts.
The Porterville Sensations dance team and Porterville Twirlerettes entertained the crowd while the PC volleyball team even performed a five-minute dance routine.
But the main events and loudest roars were reserved for the winter sports athletes, as two California newcomers had their unofficial coming-out parties as Pirates.
Six-foot-4 freshman forward Damian Bilbo, who moved three time zones to don the red and black (Mobile, Ala.) slammed home a thunderous dunk after a lob from Alton Williams to win the slam dunk contest with freshman Kee-Maya Snowden, a 5-foot-10 forward on the women’s team, edged Anthony Hidalgo in the 3-point shootout.
A streaking Bilbo caught the lob from Williams then flushed it home one-handed, inducing all five judges to hold up perfect 10 signs and his teammates to mob him, nearly knocking him down, in celebration.
“That dunk was amazing,” first-year men’s basketball coach T.J. Jennings said. “That’s stuff you dream about. He’s definitely athletic and that’s the kind of fire we wanna bring into this season.”
Snowden, a freshman from Las Vegas, was a last-minute replacement in the shootout and drilled six treys to beat her three female competitors (Ana Barogga, Lisa Lopez and Kalyn Reed) to advance to the finals where a streaky Hidalgo (11 shots) waited.
The two, shooting at opposite ends of the court, started off cold but were tied at 5 in the closing seconds. Snowden then swished a top-of-the-key 3 and was mobbed by her teammates and an ecstatic Dave Kavern, the women’s coach.
“It wasn’t awkward but in the beginning knowing I had to go against other people made it kind of weird for me,” Snowden said. “I mean, I struggled through it and then I won! (The celebration) was really exciting because it showed me that my teammates had faith in me and thought I was gonna win from the beginning. It just showed how many supporters I had and how fun it was just to do the contest.”
The women’s team boasts a 13-man roster with five local players on it. The men’s roster has 17 names on it with seven Orange Belters, including former Monache point guard Omar Saleh, a late commitment.
Volleyball coach Dale Henderson was once again night’s disc jockey while the shot of the night was swished by PC student Jose Lopez, whose half-court shot on his second try guaranteed him free tuition in the 2009-10 schoolyear.
“The night was fantastic, the crowd support, getting the community involved. This is exactly what we’re looking for this season,” Jennings said. “It’s a sign of things to come. Hopefully we’ll come back in January to a packed house.”