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Classics Visit Walpole Prison, Escape With 124-91 Victory

T.V. Cameras Watch Harvard Boys Top Cons

By Rebecca W. Carman

The Harvard Classics went through more than the usual warmups before their basketball game last night with the inmates of the Walpole maximum security prison.

The team filed through a metal detector, paged through considerable paper-work, and stood through a preliminary talk given by a prison official.

"I don't want to scare you," said Karin Saunders, a prison official, "but do pay attention to what's going on around you at all times."

With the words of warning, the Harvard basketball club took the floor amidst armed policemen, TV crews, and a crowd of convicts in a gym sealed shut with iron bars.

In a physical, aggressive game, the Classics, a team of Harvard undergraduates in uniforms of blue and gold, defeated a team of inmates clad in cutoffs and torn yellow mesh jerseys, 124-91.

But to both teams, the meaning of the game reached far beyond the score, perhaps because two more diverse groups of athletes have rarely been brought together.

"The dichotomy between the average Harvard man and the prison inmate is considerable. It's a long way from where these men are from to Harvard," Saunders said last night.

"What makes this so interesting," Classics player-coach Dave Wanger said, "is the huge difference between us. They're behind bars and we're not. Even when we're out there playing together, it's hard to forget that we're going to leave tonight and they aren't going to."

Interestingly enough, the inmates seemed to harbor little resentment against the Harvard boys.

"We had a great time out here tonight. I just hope the score's a little different next time. I'm really looking forward to the next game," said inmate John Rose.

One Opponent

Walpole Assistant Coach William Anthony, who has been in the prison for 17 years, said yesterday that the Classics were the only team willing to play his Varsity team, which was selected from over 75 hopefuls. Walpole also has an extensive intramural program because of the enthusiasm for basketball among the prisoners.

"When I play, I'm getting rid of all my frustration. I need to run and get all my animosity out," said Ernest Green

Although Saunders said that "every crime you can think of is probably on the court right now," the game was not marred by excessively violent play.

"There was a lot of friendly give and take out there between all the players," Wanger said. He added that the Classics had been a bit apprehensive about playing a physical game with the inmates, but that this feeling had disappeared by the contest's conclusion.

In fact, Wanger said that "This game was even more fun than playing other colleges, but they're [the inmates] playing for the same reasons we are-for fun."

The Harvard Classics are composed of ex-J.V. and Varsity players who don't have the time or the talent to play intercollegiate basketball, and operate as a club team. They are now 13-1, playing primarily against junior colleges.

Senior David Thompson was last night's leading scorer with 36 points. Senior Corky McCloud followed with 24 and junior John Williams contributed 20.

High-point men for the inmates were Otic McGhee with 18, Erwin Triplett, who added 15 and Lonzo Turner, who had 10.

Prisoner Eddie Ray attributed his team's loss to a lack of cohesion.

"We aren't communicating enough on defense. We've been playing too much individual ball and need to get more organized as a team," he said.

While the Classics play infrequently because of demanding academic schedules and numerous extracurricular activities, the prisoner's short schedule is a reflection of their restricted lifestyle.

"Playing these basketball games is one of the funnest things we do," said Ralph Sanders, a spectator at last night's game "It's one of the only things we do."

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