Hoops for Hope Raises Over $700 for Piazza Scholarship
by Chris Redington
Monday night, March 17, 2014, was a special night in the Herget Gymnasium at Braintree High School. The Wamps Varsity basketball teams, including the state champion Lady Wamps, squared off in an epic battle against their primary daily adversaries: the BHS faculty. “Hoops for Hope”, the event organized and executed by Ms. Forger and members of the Braintree High School student council, proved yet again to be a successful fundraiser and an enjoyable event for participants and spectators alike.
Forger and Braintree’s Student Council have established this popular, lighthearted competition in honor of the late Mr. Kyle Piazza. Piazza, who was a tremendous math teacher, track coach, and football coach at Braintree High School since 2005, and a cherished member of the Braintree community, was diagnosed with T cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, and tragically passed away on October 30, 2011 at the age of twenty eight. Inspired by the loss of such a remarkable individual to such an unforgiving disease, Braintree High School has found a way to raise funds for research against cancer, while simultaneously fostering a fun, competitive atmosphere. This year’s “Hoops for Hope” did not disappoint.
As the seven o’clock game time neared, members of the revered Wamp Nation, many adorned in their previously purchased “I hate cancer” t-shirts, began filing into the gym at Braintree High School. With pizza generously donated by Wamps Pizza and soda they purchased themselves, members of the student council managed admission and concessions, while Forger oversaw the operations. Wearing orange and green “I hate cancer” shirts respectively, the Wamp ballers and the faculty members prepared for tip off.
The game was divided into four quarters of twelve minutes each, with the boys’ varsity team taking the court for the first half. They squared off against the male faculty for the first quarter, before the female faculty members took over. Despite a discombobulated start, the boys were able to establish a lead behind the sharp shooting of junior Brendan Hapgood. The bearded Hapgood drained three consecutive three pointers, including one from an astounding seven feet beyond the arc. Senior center Ryan Houlihan, not known for his shooting prowess, also contributed to the Wamps’ scoring parade, knocking down a three pointer of his own. Asked about the atmosphere in the gymnasium, Houlihan noted, “The atmosphere was great, I loved it. Both teams brought a lot of energy. It was fun, we don’t usually get to see the teachers on an even playing field.” This playing field would no longer be very even once the state champion Lady Wamps took the court.
When the girls’ varsity team took over in the second half of the game, they proved why there isn’t a team in the state of Massachusetts that can challenge them. Freshman standout Keelah Dixon ran the point and managed the offense to perfection, while the Herlihy sisters continued to display their unprecedented athleticism in the open court. Also key to the Wamps’ success was senior Jen Whyte, who buried a few threes in front of the Wamp bench. Behind such stellar performances, the combined varsity basketball teams were not to be denied victory.
While the Wamp athletes put on an impressive display, the members of the BHS faculty gave a valiant effort in defeat. The star-studded male squad included several former Wamps basketball players, including Matt and Tim Lynch, Cam Fox, and Robert Kippenhan. Making his presence felt, however, was Mr. Flanagan who, bending the rules slightly, appeared briefly on the court as a sixth player, drained a three, and promptly returned to the bench. Meanwhile, Mr. Daley’s high, fluorescent socks were far more impressive than his play on the court. The female faculty was led by Coach McDonnell, who presides over the dominant Lady Wamps squad, and Ms. Ranieri, who drained two baskets. The MVP of the faculty team in a losing effort, however, must be attributed to housemaster Ms. Moynihan. As the scoreboard operator, Ms. Moynihan successfully and sneakily kept the faculty members in the game. At the end of a fun, hard fought game, the varsity teams prevailed by a final score of 110-108.
Ultimately, there is only one significant number produced by this game: 700. Ms. Forger and the student council was able to raise $700 through the sale of t-shirts, admission to the game, and concessions. Every penny of this impressive total will be donated so as to benefit cancer research. “Hoops for Hope” once again served as an endearing tribute to Mr. Kyle Piazza. In their support of this cause, Wampnation demonstrated the power of Braintree pride. A fun game, a unique atmosphere, and a charitable success, “Hoops for Hope” was a victory for BHS and the Braintree community. This awesome event projects to continue on for years to come, forever fostering fun and hope.
Chris Redington is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition