Wizards to work their magic on the court

Slapstick basketball team to perform Saturday

March 11, 2001

The Carroll County Tourism Council and the Harlem Wizards have teamed up for the fourth consecutive year for a madcap basketball game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Western Maryland College.

The game pits the Wizards, including former NBA and college stars, against a gang of local personalities who will be targets for on- and off-court pranks. Even the audience is involved throughout the game.

"We are delighted that Adelphia [Communications Corp.] has joined our team [as a sponsor]," said Nancy McCormick, Tourism Council president. "We know who is going to win the game, but everybody really wins here because the event is a tremendous boost for the council, and that translates into more dollars for our promotion of Carroll County."

For nearly 40 years, the Wizards have entertained audiences around the world with their rim-rocking, hoop-spoofing brand of basketball. The team recently returned from a triumphant tour of China, one of many countries on five continents the Wizards have visited since the squad was put together in 1962 by the late New York sports promoter Howie Davis.

Former Wizards include NBA greats Nate "Tiny" Archibald and Connie Hawkins, both named among the league's top 50 players of all time; Hawthorne Wingo, a former New York Knicks great; Tony Jackson, a former star with the New Jersey Nets and at St. John's University; Ray Felix, former center for the Knicks; and recent NBA long-range bomber Mario Elie of the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

Returning as on-court jester this year is crowd favorite James "Speedy" Williams, a featured performer in the movie "Above the Rim." The Wizards' sparkplug, "Speedy" keeps the game moving and the opponents on their toes with his never-ending chatter and slapstick.

He will be joined by Arnold "A-Train" Bernard, a six-year member of the Harlem Globetrotters before he joined the Wizards two years ago. The 5-foot-5 Bernard is a dribbling phenom who holds the record for most assists and steals in a season at Southwest Missouri State University.

The Wizards also bring zany referees who make every call, especially fouls, a hilarious experience.

Team members will sign autographs after the game, and Wizards souvenirs will be sold.

The Wizards will make a pre-game appearance at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce's Business Fair "SpringFest" at TownMall of Westminster. The 20- to 30-minute exhibition by the team is part of the afternoon entertainment at the fair, which runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and features information booths by a variety of business and service industries. The Tourism Council and Adelphia will sell tickets to the game throughout the day.

Tickets for this year's benefit shootout are on sale at Boston Inn, Best Western, Carroll County Regional Airport and Adelphia (Washington Street office only), all in Westminster; Sylvan Learning Center in Eldersburg and Westminster; Jubilee Foods and Thunderhead Bowling Lanes in Taneytown; and Mount Airy Town Hall. Advance tickets are $7 for adults, and $6 for children ages 5 to 12.

Tickets at the door are $8 for adults, and $6 for children ages 5 to 12. Children age 4 and younger will be admitted free.

Information: 410-848-1388.

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