Lucas Willink (22 red) and Nick Giannelli (35 blue) go for the ball during the opening tipoff of the 2023 Cuffs vs. Ladders basketball game on March 25, 2023. Photo courtesy Phil Gilbert/JP Photography.

Cops Cuff Ladders at Inaugural Police vs. Fire Basketball Game

March 26, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – Using a sharp-shooting offense and an arresting defense, Warren City Police officers defeated Warren City Firefighters, 71-53, in the inaugural Cuffs vs. Ladders basketball game at the Warren YMCA Saturday.

See the highlights here:

More important than the final score, the two departments raised over $1,000 for their respective unions and engaged the community out of uniform.

“It’s what we wanted to do, get the community together,” Police Sgt. Joe Bees said. “We had a great time with a great turnout.”

See Bees’ full interview here:

Bees also wanted to give special thanks to the group of volunteers who helped the game run smoothly. The Warren County YMCA hosted the event, Cody Bupp served as emcee, referees Joe Pellegrino and Glenn Morse, scoreboard operator Kris Bunk, and statistician Kassidy Orinko. Phil Gilbert of JP Photography, whose photos are seen throughout this article, captured still images of the event.

Cuffs’ Jeff Daugherty goes up for a shot against the Ladders’ Greg Ireland during the 2023 Cuffs vs. Ladders basketball game. Photo courtesy Phil Gilbert/JP Photography.

Anyone interested in purchasing photos may do so at the JP Photography website. All proceeds from the Cuffs vs. Ladders photos will be donated to the Police and Fire Departments.

The game featured plenty of action, but Bees said the “feel-good moment of the day” was what happened at halftime. Capt. Jeff Daugherty put up $100 for a half-court shot challenge. The challenge was open to anyone in 7th grade or under. Just as the line was beginning to grow, the challenge was over.

The Cuffs (left) and Ladders (right) stand for the national anthem prior to the start of the 2023 Cuffs vs. Ladders basketball game on March 25, 2023. Photo courtesy Phil Gilbert/JP Photography.

Gavin Mealy was the first to step up. He reared back and heaved a one-handed shot that found nothing but net.

See the shot:

“I was just gonna chuck it up like a football shot ’cause I was the quarterback for my football team,” Mealy said. “So I just chucked it up and hoped and prayed it went in.”

See Mealy’s full interview, along with Daugherty, here:

Mealy’s shot was so good he was made an honorary member of the Fire Department team. Once Mealy started scoring points for the firefighters, Daugherty was forced to take action. Daugherty took Mealy “into custody” after a made field goal.

“I think he was pretty mad that I scored,” Mealy said.

“I decided after he scored I was going to charge him for impersonating a police officer,” Daugherty said. “And we decided to handcuff the young lad and take him off the court.”

Mealy was quickly bailed out by the firefighters, checked back into the game, and finished with seven points.

“He had more points than I did,” Firefighter Greg Ireland quipped.

See Ireland’s full interview:

As for the game itself, the Cuffs jumped out to a double-digit lead early, but the Ladders stormed back to get within two late in the first half. The Cuffs responded to extend the lead to seven, 30-23, at halftime.

The Ladders tried to tilt the game in their favor during halftime by supplying the Cuffs with some chicken nuggets and a box of donuts.

“So the donuts, we call them power circles,” Ireland said. “They’re the cops’ favorite. We were just trying to entice them a bit.”

The Cuffs’ Joe Bees gets set to take a shot during the 2023 Cuffs vs. Ladders basketball game on March 25, 2023. Photo courtesy Phil Gilbert/JP Photography.

The game turned into the Nick Giannelli show in the second half. Giannelli knocked down five 3-pointers in the half on his way to a game-high 27 points. He finished with seven total threes.

The Ladders couldn’t match the 3-point shooting effort in the half and the Cuffs continued to extend the lead.

Lucas Willink led the Ladders with 24 points. TJ Danielson poured in 16.

Bees finished with 22 points, while Shane Kelly had 11, and Daugherty seven.

Both Bees and Ireland said, based on the success of Saturday’s event, that they hope to have another game again next year.

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