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All-Stars bring smiles to Savannah
Former Globetrotters play game to benefit sugar refinery blast victims
Meadowlark Lemon, a member of Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All-Starts, signs a basketball for a young fan Sunday at the Savannah Civic Center before the start of a charity game to benefit the victims of the Imperial Sugary Co. refinery explosion. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle/For the Coastal Courier


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Meadowlark Lemon and his Harlem All-Stars held a charity game Sunday in Savannah to honor first responders and help a charity that assists victims from the Imperial Sugar Co. refinery explosion in February.
The “Clown-Prince” of Basketball, as Lemon is known, and his team entertained children and adults of all ages with humorous antics, dazzling tricks and expert skills on the court.
The All-Star team, which consists of former Harlem Globetrotters, took on the Savannah Sharpshooters, a team comprised of firefighters, EMTs, clergymen, local media personalities and Imperial Sugar Co. CEO John Sheptor and coached by Savannah High boys' basketball coach Tim Jordan.
The Sharpshooters started strong with a 6-0 lead and ended the first period on top, 12-10. In the second period, however, the All-Stars shut down the home team, scoring 23 points to take a 33-12 lead in at half-time.  
During half-time, the Harlem All-Stars honored at midcourt firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and other first responders connected to the refinery fire.
The Savannah team put up a good effort in the second half but in the end, the All-Stars were too much for the locals. Lemon's team won, 60-26.
The former Globetrotters laced regular play with antics and tricks, which kept the crowd cheering and laughing until the final buzzer. Although all the All-Stars had fun with the kids, Lemon and Savannah native Matt "Showbiz" Jackson kept the youngsters on their toes all night by performing a hidden basketball routine, pretending to throw water on fans and trying to organize a baseball game at midcourt.
Lemon praised the firefighters and first responders for their service during the refinery tragedy.
“I can't put into words what a tremendous job firefighters do, and how they are willing to put their lives on the line every day they go to work,” Lemon said. “I also want to say that I meet a lot of them all the time, and they always seem to be good people.”
Lemon also said he was glad to help the victims of the accident.
"A lot of these people are just trying to put this tragedy behind them, and hopefully this game will help continue to bring everyone together, so nothing like that ever happens again".
Imperial Sugar Co. CEO John Sheptor said the charity game was exactly what victims, first responders and Savannah residents need.
"Tonight has been incredible. It's been six months since the tragedy and a game like this helps us to continue to recover, and lifts the spirits of the community. It’s just superb.”
Ron Tolley, who lives in Hinesville, attended the game.
"This is for a wonderful cause, and I'm glad to be here," Tolley said. He also praised the first responders and Hinesville’s fire department. "We are fortunate to have a good fire department in Hinesville. I've always seen them to conduct themselves in a professional manner, and I'm thankful for them."
According to All-Stars head referee and Savannah resident Bruce Wilson, the former Globetrotters play in charity games about 50 times a year.
"I know several different people who were in the refinery when it exploded,” Wilson said. “It touched me and my family and hopefully, tonight's game will help all of them out".
Savannah Fire Department Battalion Chief D. L. Cook was happy with the event and the relaxing outlet it provided for those connected to the refinery fire.
"An event like this builds the bond between the fire department and the community, and that's always a good thing."
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