Edmondson basketball seeking normalcy after tragedy

No. 8 Red Storm defeats Benjamin Franklin in front of home spectators following last week’s fatal shooting of student near school

Published 1/11/2023 12:20 p.m. EST, Updated 1/11/2023 12:40 p.m. EST

Edmondson's Josiah Brown (left), Christian Smith and DJ Dantzler exchanged handshakes with Benjamin Franklin following Tuesday's Baltimore City boys basketball contest. The No. 8 Red Storm won, 76-51, in their first home match with spectators after none were allowed for last week after a student was fatally shot and four other students  wounded at the nearby Edmondson Village Shopping Center in West Baltimore.

The basketball going through the net and or hitting off of the rim. Shoes screeching on the court. Referees blowing their whistle.

Those were welcomed sounds for the estimated 50 people inside Edmondson High’s gymnasium early Tuesday evening as Edmondson played Benjamin Franklin in a Baltimore City boys basketball match.

The eighth-ranked Red Storm won, 76-51, in the West Baltimore school’s first game with spectators following last week’s mass shooting at the Edmondson Village Shopping Center that left one student dead and four other students wounded.

“It’s been tough all the way around,” said longtime Red Storm boys basketball coach Darnell Dantzler. “Those kids are a part of our community.”

The shooting, which took place around 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 4 in front of Popeye’s Chicken, was a little more than 100 yards from Edmondson High’s front doors.

Deanta Dorsey, a 16-year old sophomore, died.

Red Storm junior forward Josiah Brown said he “knew of” Dorsey, nicknamed “Dink,” according to social media posts.

“Wrong place, wrong time,” said Brown. “It’s just unfortunate.”

School officials canceled classes last Thursday at the high school to offer counseling for students and staff. The services for students and staff continued Friday as the school operated on a half-day schedule.

Edmondson played its scheduled home game against Douglass Friday with no spectators for safety precautions.

Dantzler said the Edmondson school community has been resilient.

“I love the way the community has gotten around each other and helped these young children,” he said. “Growing up in Baltimore City, there’s certain things that we shouldn’t have to see or deal with.”

“We sat down with them (basketball team), giving them encouragement about what’s going on outside of school and why we stress taking care of yourself academically and watch the people you hang around with,” Dantzler added.

Dantzler, whose team played at Woodlawn Saturday afternoon, was pleased to have some normalcy Tuesday.

“Basketball is one of the things that help bring everybody together. For two to three hours, it takes your mind off this situation,” said Dantzler.

Four players scored in double figures Tuesday for Edmondson (7-3 overall) led sophomore guard DJ Dantzler’s 19 points. Brown finished with 15 and Marcus Jackson added 12.

Jalin Fisher had 16 points for Benjamin Franklin (5-9). The South Baltimore school was put on lockdown last Friday after two of its students were shot off campus.

Brown said “people are judging” Edmondson off the tragedy.

“It didn’t have anything to do with the school,” said Brown. “Edmondson is a good school. “It’s good athletically and the teachers want to help you in any way.”

“People have this image of what the school and community is. It’s not what people think it is,” said DJ Dantzler, a transfer from St. Frances. “This community has welcomed me with open arms.”

Dantzler said the aftermath of last week’s shooting has reminded him why he got into coaching.

“My job is to give them an avenue to stay off the streets, graduate from high school, hopefully to get them to go to college and help them develop into young men,” said Dantzler. “Getting that call from a player telling me he’s made it as a professional because of me is better than winning a championship.”

Brown solemnly admitted last week’s shooting was a grim reminder of the senseless violence that’s plaguing Baltimore.

“I try not to stand in any one spot if I’m out with my friends,” said Brown. “Anything can happen at any given moment.”

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