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Making memories

Jackals open season with victory at Warren YMCA

Times Observer photo by Jon Sitler Bernard Edwards (Defiance College) of the Jamestown Jackals goes up for a shot in a 129-96 The Basketball League (TBL) win over the Tri-State Admirals (New Jersey) on Friday at the Warren County YMCA.

“You want your time here to be memorable,” point guard Raheem “Radio” Singleton said before the Jamestown Jackals opened their season on Friday at the Warren County YMCA.

It’s a unique set-up, to say the least. But it’s professional basketball. In Warren. And Russell native and team owner Kayla Crosby (Eisenhower) is excited to bring some semblance of a 24-game minor league season to the area.

That’s not all she’s bringing to the area; it’s also people like Singleton and Bernard Edwards Jr.

When “Radio” talks of his time being “memorable,” he’s not just talking for himself. He and Edwards are perfect examples of walking the walk and talking the talk.

“All the guys that are here, they love it. … They like the fact the kids look up to us,” said Singleton.

Times Observer photo by Jon Sitler Dane Miller (Rutgers) of the Jamestown Jackals goes up strong for two points during a 129-96 The Basketball League win on Friday over the Tri-State Admirals.

That they did on Friday in a 129-96 win over the Tri-State Admirals (New Jersey) in the Jackals’ The Basketball League (TBL) opener.

“They believe in the mission of #IntegrityFirst. Having spent two months in Jamestown (N.Y.) during the season, they bought in to the community,” said Crosby.

Singleton is a 6-foot guard who played high school ball in his hometown of Roxbury, Mass., then community college in Rochester, N.Y., and later D1 for the University of Maine. He’s played nine years professionally, including Russia, Australia, China, Indonesia, and Argentina, as well as a brief stint for the Maine Red Claws in the G (former NBA D) League.

Edwards is from Detroit, Mich., and played high school ball for Warren Cousino (Michigan), community college ball for Macomb Community in Warren, Mich., and later played for D3 Defiance College in Ohio. Edwards was about to play professionally in Canada before COVID hit. He’s making a second home in The Jamestown/Warren area.

“They helped plan and facilitate Park Camp this summer,” said Crosby. “Both have also been instrumental in recruiting our 2021 roster, to make sure we have the right group of guys to win both on and off the court.”

“I feel like I’ve got two or three homes, honestly,” said Singleton.

From the inner-city near Boston, Singleton said he soon realized the similarities with Jamestown, and the youth that needed direction much like where he grew up.

A self-professed basketball “journeyman,” Singleton said Jamestown was “a place I could continue to play basketball at a high level and impact the community.”

Exactly what Edwards strives to do, starting a training program for youth in Michigan once out of college, and now here in northwest Pennsylvania/southwestern New York.

His pupils lined the top row at the YMCA on Friday, from Leighden Wotorson of Sheffield, to Reid Olsen of Warren, to Chase Sitler.

“Not only has he made me a better basketball player, but a better person,” said Sitler, who met Edwards one day at Praise Fellowship’s HUB sports complex in Russell last year.

The 6-foot-6 forward from Detroit has a following in Warren County, Pa., judging by the crowd noise on Edwards’ four-point play on Friday. He finished with 17 points, which might have been 90 by the sounds of it.

“They could relate to the youth they had met and wanted to continue to impact lives,” said Crosby.

Edwards went home for a month — “the first time I’d been home in a while,” he said, “and I was talking to Miss Kayla; there was an opportunity to come back and help kids get better… it was a win/win.”

And a no-brainer for Sitler and others working with him.

“I always was big on the training side and being able to help people get better,” he said.

Edwards’ internship in college included working with basketball-playing youth at a local YMCA.

Full circle.

About 200 people attended the season-opener on Friday against the Tri-State Admirals (New Jersey) in something that felt at least a little bit “normal.”

National anthem. A halftime show. Crowd cheers. Dunks.

Four McGlynn led the Jackals with 31 points and Christian Nobles scored 24.

Crosby hit a home run in basketball — with help.

“We saw it as an opportunity to bring some talented athletes to play in our gym,” said YMCA Executive Director Thad Turner. “We hope it provides some fun for adults, but I want it to be a memory and inspiration for some of the kids that play in our gym. I hope they think it is pretty cool to see some guys of that caliber playing on the exact same court that they play on.”

Players, and coaches and mentors.

“During my career, my biggest thing is being a role model,” said Singleton. “For me, I was a kid that everybody wrote off; you wouldn’t say I would be somebody getting ready to start my ninth year of pro ball.”

Singleton said this experience “hits home for me.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, don’t let anybody tell you you cant make anything of yourselves,” said Singleton.

“Miss Kayla’s vision is very big,” he said. “I support her vision and like the direction she wants to go with the Jackals. When she hears, ‘you cant do this,’ and is still doing this. This is opportunity. We’re getting ready to play a season in COVID times and that right there is already an opportunity.”

For all of us.

The Jackals host the Syracuse Stallions at 5 p.m. today back at the Warren Y, the only other game currently scheduled there.

“I’m super excited for the guys (from the AAU team I coach here) to be there and see me play for the first time,” Edwards said on Friday. “I’m more nervous to play in front of the kids than I’ve been playing in front of large crowds.”

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