At last! If you are a basketball fan and have been yearning to go to a professional basketball game in Pensacola, you’ve finally gotten your wish.
Pensacola Lightening Basketball now resides in Pensacola. Owned and operated by Curtis and Joann Beasley, the team has already begun playing. “Last year was our first year playing and we actually did quite well. Our record for last year was 9-9,” stated Beasley.
Daveyon Finkley, who plays point guard, began his career with the Pensacola Lightening, a younger group before he stepped up to the adult group. “We played at different places such as Cobb Center, traveled to Atlanta and eventually moved up to the “Thunder” team before making it to the Lightening team.” “I tried out for the Lightening and made it.” He said.
Demarcus Horne, another Lightening player has quite a bit of experience also. “I’ve played basketball since I wasl 5 years old,” he began. “I didn’t play too much with youth teams but my main coach, Derrick Bell, and Coach Bennie (Washington) was instrumental in teaching me the game. We mostly focused on how to play defense and then more organized team ball.” Thorn played basketball for Pine Forest High until his graduation. He then played for Pensacola State College until he injured his knee. “Because of the love of the game, I didn’t give up. I continued to play and went oversees to England for a year. That’s where I learned the business side of sports. It’s not easy to get to the professional level. You have to work hard and knowing someone helps too.” He stated.
Upon returning to Pensacola, Horn continued to play basketball and when he heard about tryouts to the Lightening team, he decided to try out and now he is a Team Captain.
Derrick Bell, Team Captain, has been playing basketball ‘all of his life’. He credits (Commissioner) Lumon May as his first coach up to High School. “My coach then was Benny Washington, where the Woodham Titans Class of 2003 won the State Championship. Bell also was voted MVP.
Jorse Washington, president of the operations, son of Mr and Mrs Beasley, handles the day to day activities of the team. “I’m really excited about the direction it is going this year. We’ve got a great group of guys this year. A lot of the veterans came back from last year. Looking at the practice, they are really gelling”
When asked why they wanted to start a basketball team Beasley replied “I had my sons who were ball players and trying to shape them gave
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way to my dream of having them on an AAU level. After watching other coaches, I thought that’s something I can do. At that time, I had a job being a fire fighter. After 30 years of being a fire fighter, I thought-I have the means – and now that I’ve retired, I can move forward with my dream.” Beasley admits that in the beginning he had not thought about a professional team until one day while on the internet, he saw something about the American Basketball Association. “I looked into it and saw how much it cost to buy it.” While walking around with his son in Dillards, he consummated the deal on the phone. Now, he’s enjoying the work and looking forward to bringing in more players that get overlooked but have talent.
Next week AAU vs ABA; what REALLy happened to the game.
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