The Toad Suck Lions, who will oppose the Harlem Ambassadors in a charity basketball game on Saturday, Feb.. 22, have notable achievements in their own right.
The Harlem Ambassadors take on teams from the communities hosting their games so that those attending have more of a connection to the event. Arkansas basketball legends Cliff Garrison, Don Dyer, and Marvin Delph will be coaching the home team and provided a summary of their accomplishments.
One of the Lions, Lawson Pilgrim, is a legend in Conway. His basketball career at Conway High included a 36-0 run to a state championship. He went on to help Hendrix College achieve a 23-8 season in 1978-1979 and a 23-5 season in 1979-1980, which included a conference title. He led the Warriors to another 23-5 season in 1980-1981, which led to another conference championship and then all the way to the third round of the NAIA District 17 tournament.
For his play in that second season, Pilgrim was named a second-team NAIA All-American and earned first-team All-American status for his contributions during his last season at Hendrix. After his basketball career at Hendrix, he played for Athletes in Action in venues all over the world. He is now a motivational speaker and author and advises that "if you are able to overcome adversity, the greatness within you will be unleashed."
Another TSL player is Austin Mitchell. He’s from Conway and is a 2013 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University. While at OBU, he played basketball from 2009-2013 and helped the Tigers to the Great American Conference championship in his senior year.
He is sixth in all-time scoring at OBU with 1,309 points and OBU’s second-highest 3-point shooter with 310. He is employed as a broker for Moses Tucker Real Estate in downtown Little Rock and is an active church member at Harlan Park Baptist Church.
The team also has some recreational players, one of whom is Brian Ratliff, more notable for his work the past 15 years as Toad Master at Toad Suck Daze. He has played in each of the club’s earlier Harlem Ambassador basketball shows, complete with his Toad Master green coat and top hat.
He is currently the children’s minister at Antioch Baptist Church. Prior to assuming that responsibility, he taught third and fifth grade in Conway, was assistant principal for the Greenbrier School District, and served as principal of Vilonia Primary School and Academy of Technology.
Other members of the Toad Suck Lions will be profiled in an upcoming article.
The game will be at 6 p.m. at the Hendrix Wellness and Athletic Center.
Tickets for the game can be purchased in advance at all Faulkner County First Security Bank, Simmons First National Bank, and Summit Bank branches. Tickets are also available at Gary Cox, CPA (811 Parkway); the Log Cabin Democrat; and at the Faulkner County Library.
Advance ticket prices are as follows: Students- $1, Seniors (55 and over)-$3, and Adults-$5. Children 4 and under will be admitted free of charge. On game night, tickets will cost $1 more. Proceeds from the game will be used by the Conway Noon Lions Club to assist blind and visually-impaired citizens of Conway and Faulkner County who cannot afford eye care.