East St. Louis versus East St. Louis Lincoln. That once was the game.
For those basketball players who grew up in East St. Louis and the fans who vigorously supported them, it was the game of the year and for some, it simply was the only one that mattered.
Memories of the legendary rivalry will be rekindled once again when the second annual Phillip Gilbert and Family Scholarship Alunni Basketball Game is set to be held on May 9 at East St. Louis High School.
One of the top players in East St. Louis High School history who went onto a brilliant four-year collegiate career at Bradley University, Gilbert said on Monday that tickets for the event are on sale for $5 and are available at East St. Louis High School. Tickets will also be on sale at the gate for $6 for adults and $3 for students under 10.
The night of exciting basketball will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. and will include a 50-50 raffle, a dunk exhibition and a 3-point shootout. But the main attraction will be the game when former East St. Louis and Lincoln players battle in the name of good sportmanship for a worthy cause of helping raise money for the Phillip Gilbert and Family College Scholarship fund. All proceeds from the event are awarded to two deserving East St. Louis High School seniors — one boy and one girl — in the form of scholarship money to help with their college expenses.
“We raised $500 last year and we were able to give $250 scholarships to two students which I felt very good about,” Gilbert said. “My hope is to raise even more this year. It would be great to give $500 each to two students or maybe $250 to four students. We want to be able help as many kids as we can.”
“I was fortunate in that I had a number of people who helped me and I was able to earn a scholarship and get a college education. Alot of deserving kids aren’t as lucky and can’t afford to go to college. For me it’s all about giving back and helping the kids. If we are able to help pay for some of their books or give them a little money for clothes when they go to college, that’s great.”
Gilbert said the response of the first East St. Louis-Lincoln Almni game a year ago was outstanding as 12 former Flyers and 12 former Tigers battled in a close and hard-fought game. Three 3-point baskets by the talented Gilbert and eight straight free throws down the stretch by former Flyers guard Steve Reed gave East St. Louis a narrow win.
“It was close all the way and it was just a great night of basketball. It was like the old days with Lincoln fans on one side of the gym and East St. Louis fans on the other. Everybody was having a good time, cheering for their favorite team and or players,” Gilbert said. “I remember one time I was on the court late in the fourth quarter. I looked up in the stands and I was really happy because there were a lot of people watching.
“It was a great night for East St. Louis and East St. Louis High School. A lot of the guys who we have in the game still are active and still play in leagues in St. Louis and other places. We’re going to have a couple of older guys play this year too.”
Gilbert confirmed that former Flyer great and NBA first round draft choice Darius Miles will not play in the game but plans to attend. Former Lincoln coach Bennie Lewis will coach the Tigers alimni while former East St. Louis player Julyon Brown will coach the Flyers.