Alumni, students and family gathered on Saturday, May 20 in the Wade King Student Recreation Center to watch the third annual Back2B’ham Battle exhibition basketball game.
The Vikings Alumni basketball team pulled off a 130-125 victory against the Bellingham Slam.
The Slam is a semi-pro basketball team in the American Basketball Association. The majority of the Slam’s roster is made up of Western alumni. A few of their players played for the Alumni team during the exhibition.
The game was the Alumni’s first win in the three years the teams have played each other. The Slam won the first two years with scores of 108-100 and 133-106.
Alumni forward Anye Turner scored a total of 29 points and led the team in rebounds with 19.
“It was a competitive game, but at the same time it was great to see a bunch of friends and play the game we love,” Turner said.
The Vikings started out strong in the first quarter with a 23-18 advantage over the Slam. They lost their lead once in the game during the second quarter when the Slam made it 27-29, but Turner took the lead back to make the score 31-29.
The Alumni team continued its dominance in the third quarter by compiling a total of 33 points while the Slam added 31, making it 89-75 by the end of the quarter.
“[The game] started off slow and I thought we were going to coast to the win, but they’re always fighting, so it turned out to be a battle,” Turner said.
The Slam scored a total of 50 points in the fourth quarter to give the Alumni a close battle, but the Vikings held on. Slam head coach and player Tyler Amaya, who is also a Western alumnus, said the Vikings had a lot of motivation coming into the game.
“It was a competitive game, but at the same time it was great to see a bunch of friends and play the game we love.”
Anye Turner, alumni forward
“We started playing how we’re capable of, but unfortunately, the first three quarters we didn’t really bring it as a team,” Turner said.
Alumni center David Gage, who was the Viking’s leading scorer with a total of 31 points, said it’s great to have everyone back in one place competing, including players on the Slam team.
“[It’s good] reminiscing about good times with friends that we don’t get to see very often,” Gage said.
Other standout performances were by Slam player Paul Hafford, who was the game leading scorer with 32 points, and Alumni player Robert Harris Jr., who scored a total of 27 points.