It's pretty certain Someone Up Above willed Prep Charter to victory yesterday in a zany Public League basketball game.
No offense to God, but Mark Wilmer knows who did the deed - Akhir "Geedy" Frazier.
Frazier, Wilmer's teammate and best friend, died late last August after heart problems caused him to collapse in a summer league game. Two days ago, his No. 4 jersey was retired before the Huskies hosted Thomas FitzSimons, and a banner, including several likenesses, was affixed to the wall behind one of the baskets.
With no hesitation, Wilmer, a 6-5, 215-pound senior forward/center, said he cried during the ceremony and again some more, at least a little, in the early stages of that game as the memories kept flooding into his mind. Afterward, he stared at the banner for what seemed like forever.
"Ever since that happened to Geedy, I've been working harder than ever to dedicate this season to him," Wilmer said. "I was over his house all the time. The screensaver on my phone is a picture of me and him.
"Geedy was just so funny. He would always have you laughing."
While looking down at yesterday's contest, "won" by PC, 44-42, over Delaware Valley Charter at Simons Rec Center, in West Oak Lane, Frazier was probably laughing so hard, he doubled over or even fell to his knees.
The halftime score, according to the Daily News, was PC 23, D-V 21. Somehow, the home scorebook had PC with a 29-21 lead. Again, the Huskies were the visiting team. Foul-ups almost never victimize the home squad. Funny thing about that, right?
Referee Randy Pritzker declined help at untangling the screwup, saying he was bound by PIAA rules. And it was a mess.
After hitting a foul-line, buzzer-beating, off-the-shoulder heave to win it, junior guard Byron Whiting said the field goal was his first of the game. Not according to the scorebook. He was credited with one of three phantom, second-quarter buckets. (Wilmer and Laquan Stephens were given the others.)
"I don't know how this happened," Jason Harrigan, D-V's first-year coach, said shortly before 9 o'clock last night. "I just watched our video of that whole second quarter. Prep Charter scored all their points at the line. They had no field goals. None.
"How do field goals they didn't score wind up in our scorebook? I wish I knew. With four kids - two from each school - at the scorers' table, anything is possible. Maybe one of their coaches leans over and says, 'Yo, we just hit a layup.' A couple of their shots did go in and out. Rather than stop the game and cause a scene, maybe our girl just goes with it. It was crazy. We'd score and they'd get three more points on the scoreboard."
With 1:01 left in the game, there was a lengthy delay as the scorekeepers tried to untangle whether PC should be shooting a one-and-one. The scoreboard went from seven team fouls on D-V, to six, and then to five. Oh, baby.
D-V earned a tie with 18.6 seconds remaining as frosh guard Malik Smith converted a one-and-one. At the other end, following a timeout, the Huskies' Jamie Betancourt had the ball on the right side and gave it to Whiting.
As Whiting and Wilmer confirmed, the plan was for the guards to perform a triangle play up top - screening, interacting - and then take the best opportunity from there.
As Whiting eased to his left, and stopped maybe 3 feet to the right of straight-on, Wilmer expected to receive a dump-in pass. With Carnell Gray trying to contest the shot from the left, Whiting shielded himself and drained the game-winner.
"When I saw 7 seconds up there, I had to go in and take it," Whiting said. "I knew it was gonna go in. I believe in my shot.
"It felt good going up and then when I saw it coming down . . . That's good!"
Said Wilmer: "I didn't mind not getting the ball. That was a nice shot."
Wilmer finished with 15 points (13 really) and the same number of rebounds. Though he's thinking he might have to play small forward in college, his body and overall skill set likely dictate a stint at power forward.
He's very good at collecting himself on the blocks and baseline and few can match his strength/inner drive.
"I'm not really sure who's interested in me," Wilmer said. "Coach Dan [Brinkley] handles all that stuff. I trust his judgment and I know he'll place me at my best fit. He's been a great mentor. I'll worry about that later."
Laquan Stephens also scored in double figures for PC (11, nine really) while adding five boards and four steals. John Longo had two assists, three steals. Rashaan Feaster (12, also 14 boards) and Gray (10) led the Warriors in scoring while Javan Bailey mixed 10 boards and five steals.
Wilmer, who lives near 18th and Rockland, in Logan, began his high school years at Germantown. Prep Charter, in South Philly, involves a much longer trek, and the academic demands proved challenging at the start, but now he's comfortable and his report card reflects his hard work.
"I'm thinking I want to major in sports medicine," he said. "I could help people, and still make good money, in that field."