HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Members of the Hattiesburg Police Department (HPD) and the Hattiesburg Fire Department (HFD) played basketball Saturday at Southern Miss' Payne Center.
But this was not any typical basketball game.
The Southern Miss wheelchair basketball team hosted a clinic where teams from New Orleans and Alabama participated in. But, the HPD vs. HFD wheelchair basketball game was the main event.
"We're used to the lateral movement in able-body ball. You don't have that in wheelchair basketball. You got to learn to just use your arms, which is tough because your mind is so accustomed to wanting to go left, right, and just taking that step. But, you got to do it with your arms and hands," said referee, Buddy Barnes.
Both teams participated in pregame warmups.
Majority of the players did not have a disability. So each person spent a lot of time trying to maneuver in a wheelchair, as well as passing the ball and scoring buckets without the use of the lower body.
"It was cool man. It was fun just coming out here and playing ball. I'm a basketball player. I'm an athlete. So anytime I can come out and be a part of something like this is always fun," said Hattiesburg Police Officer, Brian Gray.
After pregame warmups, the game started.
The game was fast-paced, and it was more challenging than some anticipated.
"It definitely makes you appreciate being able to walk and everything. They're confined to the wheelchair, but it doesn't stop them from living their lives and having fun, and that sort of thing. And being able to play with them just brings joy, and just a different element to the game, and a different appreciation," said Hattiesburg Firefighter, Isaiah Newsome.
When it was all said and done, one team dominated the other. And that team was the fire department.
"I'm very disappointed in the Hattiesburg Police Department. The fire department was really hot today. They had a wonderful time, a good game, good turnout. The fire department really proved their point today that they're better than the police department," said Sylvester Crosby, Southern Miss wheelchair basketball president and player.
Although the fire department won and the police department lost, both departments gained more of an appreciation for wheelchair basketball.