By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
Ten-year-old Emma Bollinger, of Carthage, had seen the Harlem Globetrotters once before, in Springfield.
But her Globetrotter experience on Wednesday night at Missouri Southern’s Leggett & Platt Athletic Center might be a bit more memorable.
Midway through the first quarter Bollinger found herself in the middle of the world-famous basketball players, skipping onto the court.
“That was really fun,” Bollinger said a few minutes later, back in the stands with her parents.
Before her impromptu performance was over, Bollinger had one of the Globertrotters’ iconic red, white and blue basketballs spinning on her finger like a pro, with a little help from ringleader Special K.
“I don’t know how I did that,” she said.
Bollinger was one of a handful of fans who were able to be a part of the action on the court, but everyone in the near-capacity crowd was able to play a part in the game.
In a new twist, fans were able to vote online before the game for special rules — a 4-point shot, double points or two basketballs in play at a time — to be in play in the first three quarters.
A live vote, by crowd noise of course, was taken to see which rule would be in play in the fourth quarter.
The winning rule — the 4-point shot — helped push the final score well past the century mark in the Globetrotters’ 112-107 win over the Global Select.
The more common crowd-involvement gags were also in order.
One section got the traditional bucket of confetti thrown on it, children were invited out onto the court to dance and purses were stolen
The purse belonged to Dianna Quirin, from Parsons, Kan., who had courtside seats and was singled out as the “pretty lady” by a satchel-swiping Globetrotter — much to the delight of Quirin’s two sons, 5-year-old Jager and 7-year-old Jayce.
“The basketball player came over and took mom’s purse,” Jayce said. “And then he took her phone and typed in the password and we recorded her on it.”
Dianna eventually got her purse, and phone, back after making her own trip onto the court.
“We’ll have to send the video to Jager and Jayce’s older sister at college,” she said. “She’ll be upset that she wasn’t here in person to see me humiliated in front of everyone.”