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Retired Sedona entrepreneur Neal Williams still competes at basketball the same way he succeeded in his three careers — at the highest level.

Sedona retiree Neal Williams practices his jump shot Nov. 26 during open gym night at West Sedona School in preparation for the Arizona Senior Olympics basketball tournament, which begins Saturday, March 8, at 9 a.m. in Peoria.

The 74-year-old former documentary producer and auto parts manufacturer and distributor continues to shoot jumpers at West Sedona School’s open gym every Tuesday night for an hour in preparation for the Arizona Senior Olympics basketball tournament, held its final weekend.

Williams, who first started playing basketball at the age of 10 and also has been playing tennis doubles at a local resort three days a week for the last three years, will join a team of four other Arizonans aged 65 and older looking to medal in the five-game round-robin competition, held Saturday through Sunday, March 8 and 9, at the Rio Vista Recreation Center in Peoria starting at
9 a.m.

“It’s still fairly rough,” he said. “Guys’ll knock you down, but they’ll pick you back up.

“I play with the young guys sometimes at the Cottonwood Rec. Center, too. Even at the [Sedona Red Rock] High School, most of the guys I play against are in their 20s.”

This will be Williams’ first foray into the state Senior Olympics, which began for all sports Monday, Feb. 15. He joined three other 70- to 75-year-olds from Seattle, Colorado and New Mexico as well as two Arizonans on a basketball team that finished atop the 24-team pool at the National Senior Games in Cleveland, winning three games this past summer.

“We were ranked No. 1 at the end of the round-robin tournament before we played a bad first game in the playoff and lost,” the 6-foot-3-inch Williams said. “The average guy I guarded at the senior games was 6’5” and 220 pounds, so the majority of them I play against are bigger than me.”

Stout performances from a man with two artificial knees who set aside competitive basketball for nearly 50 years to get his Bachelor of Science degree from Stanford University and run two successful businesses manufacturing engine testing equipment — including the innovation of the flowbench, a dynamometer which tests and measures air and gasoline flow through many different parts of car engines, used by NASCAR as well as the Mexico City emissions program.

For the full story, please see the Friday, Feb. 21, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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