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Basketball

Games to Remember

Hoops for Hope doubleheader between ConVal, Conant packed the gym for highly competitive games and raised over $2,300 for breast cancer awareness

  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.
  • The ConVal girls basketball team beat Conant 42-30 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.

There was an electricity in the air. It’s been a decade since the atmosphere in the ConVal gym felt the way it felt on Tuesday for the annual Hoops for Hope basketball doubleheader between the Conant and ConVal girls and boys teams. The two schools have always been rivals; even playing in different divisions, the geography alone lends any matchup between the two a little something extra. As far back as anyone on the current teams can remember, though, the rivalry has been awfully one-sided. Coming into the games, Conant’s boys and girls teams had not lost to ConVal since the 1999-2000 season; aside from the girls game in 2012, which was decided in overtime, none of them have even been close. But in front of a packed house, the Cougars put up a fight against the Orioles, and the result was two great basketball games – and the first ConVal victory over a Conant basketball team in 15 years.

The girls game started off as so many others had, with Conant jumping out to an early lead and controlling the first quarter. But with the crowd rocking and both teams playing tough, physical basketball, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a blowout by any means. ConVal made a brief run in the second quarter, but Conant answered right back and took a 17-10 lead into halftime.

“We went into halftime and said ‘This is not as good as we can play,’ ” ConVal senior captain Jess Nerz said. The Cougars came out for the second half with a renewed intensity and immediately upped the defensive pressure, which led to a pair of 10-second calls and a handful of steals.

“Once we got a few steals and once the first couple shots went in, we got into a rhythm and we got going,” Nerz said.

Both teams feature excellent frontcourts; Conant’s Heather Bilodeau and Sarah Gonsalves battled ConVal’s Emmasae Hallen, Hannah Reinfrank and Megan Buydos all night long. Gonsalves led the Orioles with 17 points and made a few big blocks, but the Cougars held her and Bilodeau relatively in check.

“(The forwards) did amazing tonight on the boards,” Nerz said. “I cannot stress enough that nothing the guards did offensively could have happened without those rebounds.”

Cougar reserve Kelsey Walker came off the bench and hit a pair of big jumpers to tie the game at 21 midway through the third. Walker’s outburst sparked a ConVal run, and after Nerz hit a pair of free throws and a jumper at the end of the third, the ConVal lead was up to 26-21.

The Orioles started to claw back in the fourth. Bilodeau converted an and-one on a hard foul, and Gonsalves grabbed three offensive rebounds on one possession before scoring and cutting the ConVal lead to three. That was as close as it would get however; after big baskets by Reinfrank and Buydos down the stretch, all Conant could do was foul. Nerz went 5-for-6 from the line in the fourth and ConVal held on to win 42-30. Nerz led all scorers with 22.

After the game, the Cougars were ecstatic.

“I can not remember the last time we beat Conant,” Nerz said. “It’s the first time in my career and I can’t remember the last time we have.”

It was the first win over Conant for ConVal coach Brian Pickering, as well.

“I told them before the game that we didn’t have to play a special game, we just have to play a good game,” Pickering said. “In the locker room after the game, I said ‘I told you you didn’t have to play a special game, but I didn’t tell you that something special wouldn’t happen.’ ”

Orioles hang on

The intensity level did not decrease one bit as the boys game started. Conant was without two of their three senior captains, as Rob O’Brien and Kyle Carland were both sick and unable to play.

“We found out that their stars were going to be out, so we took advantage of that in the beginning,” said ConVal’s senior captain, point guard Jordan Moore. Moore led the way for the Cougars early, scoring six of his team-leading 13 in the first quarter, including a stepback corner three at the buzzer.

“I told him before the game – this is the night,” said first-year ConVal coach Kevin Proctor. “This is why you have the C on your chest. This is it, man. You have to step up and lead these guys, and he did a great job.”

With Conant’s defensive stopper, Carland, unavailable, Moore ran Nick Panagiotes ragged in the first half.

“Jordan is one of the fastest kids that we’ll play against,” Conant’s Eli Hodgson, the only captain available for the Orioles, said. “DIII, DII, DI, one of the quickest guys.”

Beyond his superior speed, Moore showed off his court vision, time and again driving into the Conant paint, forcing the Orioles to collapse before snapping the ball over to a cutting teammate.

“It was good,” Moore said. “Our shots were falling , everything was working. Our offense looked the best that it’s looked all year, actually.”

In contrast to ConVal’s top-notch scoring effort, Conant struggled to score in the first half, as ConVal big men Kyle Murray, Malik Earle and Will Chambers smothered Hodgson in the paint.

“In the beginning, I kind of had to find my role,” Hodgson said. “I thought I had to take all the shots, and I was struggling.”

After drawing a foul on Moore with seconds left in the first half, Hodgson went to the line and missed the front end of a one-and-one, and ConVal improbably took a 22-18 lead into the half. That was when the Orioles made a big adjustment. Panagiotes, who’d been running to the point of exhaustion trying to keep up with Moore, made a request of coach Eric Saucier.

“He said ‘Coach, I will play harder than you’ve ever seen me play if you just let me play half-court man to man,’” Hodgson said. “He did, and he just stepped it up at the very end.”

After that adjustment, Panagiotes was extremely effective defensively, holding Moore to only seven points in the second half, and none in the fourth quarter. Panagiotes scored all five of his points in the fourth, including a huge three and a icewater-veined crossover stepback jumper.

“He made some big shots,’ Saucier said. “He stepped up like a senior should.”

Conant eventually took the lead on a pair of Nate Wheeler free throws with five minutes to go, and the Orioles continued to show that everybody on their roster can score and play defense.

“Once I started trusting my teammates more – which is what I typically do, even with Rob and Kyle on the floor – things started to flow for us,” Hodgson said.

After another Conant bucket, ConVal’s Jaymes Finley hit a big three to tie it up again. Conant came right back and scored two in a row before Finley made a steal and found a streaking Noah Cail for a layup to cut the lead to 41-39. Finley then got a great look at a three off an inbounds play with 30 seconds left, but it went long and Hodgson wrapped up the rebound. ConVal fouled him and sent him to the line for another one-and-one.

“In the back of my head was the Campbell game, where I missed the front end of the one-and-one which could have at least tied the game or won that game for us,” Hodgson said. In fact, one of Hodgson’s own teammates leaned in and told him ‘Don’t miss like Campbell!’

“I was like ‘You’re really going to say that right now?’ ” Hodgson said, “but it definitely worked.” Hodgson calmly knocked down both free throws and Conant came away with a 43-39 win. Hodgson finished with a game-high 24.

It was the closest game that the ConVal and Conant boys teams have had since the last ConVal victory, a 62-48 win back in the year 2000 (the last time ConVal went to the state championship). The crowd seemed to know something special was happening, and the student sections were rocking.

“It’s so good for our young guys and it’s so good to have that atmosphere – for ConVal, too,” Saucier said. “They don’t get a lot of crowds like this. So, it’s good for them. And yes, I’m glad I’m going to get Robert and Kyle back, that’s for sure. It makes a difference when you’ve got two huge seniors that are big parts of this program and played for three years and understand what we’re doing, but tonight allowed the team to realize that everybody matters. No matter who’s on the floor, everybody’s rooting for everybody. I think we became a much better team tonight.”

Proctor said after the game that he hopes that level of enthusiasm for ConVal basketball can keep up in the future.

“I think just to play in the atmosphere, the way the gym was, it was fantastic,” Proctor said. “I’m glad the kids got to feel that, especially our young kids. They got to experience the intensity. Our goal as a program is to make the gym feel like that at every home game.”

Raising awareness

Even with two great games like that, it was impossible to ignore the bigger picture. The games were part of Hoops for Hope, a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness, and fans of both sides did away with the orange and black or the yellow and blue, opting to don so much pink that the stands were swimming in it – rivals united for a common cause. Cancer survivor Tonya Dreher gave an emotional halftime speech, and in the end, the event raised over $2,300. The cause was on the minds of every player and coach throughout the evening.

“Regardless of who wins our rivalry, there’s a bigger picture,” Saucier said.

“It’s special because it’s not just basketball,” Nerz said. “We’re doing it for a benefit for so many people that have been affected by breast cancer, so it’s nice to know that we’re doing it for a cause and it’s something that I love, so it’s just a bonus to it.”

“I told the team before the game, you have a great opportunity to go out there and play basketball with your brothers on this team,” Proctor said. “Don’t take it for granted. We’re so fortunate to be able to play. And we’re playing for people like Tonya Dreher, the survivors. To not step up and not play this game with passion and intensity would have been an insult to them. The kids stepped up and played fantastic.”

If you’re a member of the ConVal or Conant communities and are suffering from the effects of breast cancer, the Hoops for Hope organization wants to hear from you. Contact the group at hoopsforhope@conval.edu or PO Box 314, Peterborough, NH, 03458.

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