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Sideline Cancer, inspired by memory of Red Land star, to play in $1 million TBT final

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
Kennard-Dale-Dale High graduate Charlie Parker, left, celebrates with his players after Sideline Cancer defeated Overseas Elite to advance to The Basketball Tournament's title game.
  • Sideline Cancer has reached the title game in the TBT event.
  • Sideline Cancer will play Golden Eagles for $1 million at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
  • The victory was dedicated to Red Land High grad Jermaine Marshall.
Jermaine Marshall

Maurice Creek had a number of reasons to be emotional on Sunday night.

He just hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win a nationally-televised game and give his team a chance to win $1 million. Something else, however, made the Sideline Cancer guard get choked up after the contest.

Creek, a former Indiana University guard, became a member of the Sideline Cancer squad for The Basketball Tournament in 2018 because of his connection to Red Land High School graduate and former Penn State basketball player, Jermaine Marshall.

In January 2019, Marshall died because of undetected heart conditions in his home in France, where he was playing professionally. After Creek’s improbable 3-pointer went through the net on Sunday night in a 67-65 win vs. Overseas Elite, tears welled up in his eyes. Creek was thinking about his friend and former TBT teammate, and the role Marshall had in the game-winning shot.

“That was Jermaine, that was Jermaine Marshall,” Creek told ESPN after the game. “He would have told me (to) shoot that every time and I shot it for him. It went in because of him. I know he’s looking at us from above and he is with us every time we get on this floor. That definitely was him today.”

Sideline Cancer coach Charlie Parker, a Kennard-Dale High and Millersville University graduate, added that he too was thinking about Marshall when the team celebrated its biggest moment in the seven TBT tournaments.

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“Jermaine was a huge part of our family and growth in becoming a true contender in the tournament,” Parker said. “I had tears in my eyes four or five times between the shot going in and when the media was asking us questions. As soon as his name was mentioned it’s just crazy emotions and goosebumps. All of those things that are like higher power and spiritual. We know he’s with us and we gotta get one more for him.”

It’s easy to see why the members of Sideline Cancer believe there’s something supernatural guiding them through this event.

As the No. 22 team in the 24-squad field in the $1 million winner-take-all event, Sideline Cancer has knocked off four of the teams in the top half of the bracket to reach the title game. A victory over No. 11 seed Team Hines started the tournament, followed by victories over a trio of top-10 teams.

No. 6 Challenge ALC was the first top-ranked foe to be dropped, followed by No. 3 Boeheim’s Army (made up of Syracuse University alumni) and No. 2 Overseas Elite, four-time winners of TBT led by seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson.

Parker said the run Sideline Cancer is on easily surpasses the victories he had as a player at Millersville and in the NBA G-League.

“It truly is something special. Those things don’t even come close to what is going on with this team,” Parker said. “It’s been a blessing to be able to play the talented teams we’ve played.”

Two former York County basketball standouts team up with Sideline Cancer in TBT event

To capture the title, and the $1 million prize that comes along with it, Sideline Cancer will have to avenge its lone loss in the 2019 TBT event. The team was eliminated by Golden Eagles, a team made up of Marquette University alumni, after a strong run to the round of 16.

The Golden Eagles return most of the core team that Sideline Cancer faced last year, but added a pair of talented players in Travis Diener, who last played in the NBA and Darius Johnson-Odom, a 2012 second-round pick of the Dallas Mavericks.

The teams will play for the title at 7 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN. Dallastown High graduate Four McGlynn is also a member of the Sideline Cancer team.

Sideline Cancer entered the 2020 tournament with the same two goals it always has: raise awareness for pancreatic cancer research and win games. With a trip to the championship game, the team has achieved both, but Parker knows his team can achieve more.

With the memory of their late teammate fresh in their minds, and a rematch with the team that ended their 2019 TBT run, Sideline Cancer doesn't want this opportunity to slip away.

“I feel like it’s destiny,” Parker said. “I was not sure a few months ago that there would even be a tournament this year. To have the opportunity to even be here was amazing. Our goal was to put Sideline Cancer on the map and I think we did that, but it’s not enough yet. We have to get that championship.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.