It was a game that was so much bigger than just the final result.
On Wednesday night, the Hoops for Hope 'pink' basketball game was hosted at North Battleford Comprehensive High School, where the senior girls Vikings basketball team helped raise $12,704.49 for the Battlefords Union Hospital (BUH) Foundation, where the money will go toward the Community Oncology Program of Saskatchewan (COPS).
"I couldn't be more proud of the effort that these girls put in with all their fundraising," Vikings head coach Bryan Cottini said after the game, where the Vikings won 49-48 over Prince Albert St. Mary's. "I can't even tell you the amount of hours in volunteering they put in to raise that money.
"Hosting a game doesn't take a lot of effort. But the amount of effort that's put in to running this game was a little over the top, but it was well worth it."
When the fundraiser first began in 2009, thanks to Assiniboia Composite High School girls basketball coach Al Wandler, the funds went to the Canadian Cancer Society. Now, a recipient is chosen by the team that is hosting the game.
The COPS program provides cancer patients with care, treatment and support close to home. The BUH COPS program runs five days a week and provides approximately 1,700 treatments per year. The donation from the pink game will specifically go toward the purchase of new treatment chairs.
To raise the funds, the Vikings basketball team held a dance earlier this year, helped run canteens at football games, plus there was a silent auction, 50/50 draw, and pink T-shirt sales at the game. All ticket sales from the game also contributed to the donation total.
"It's crazy, seeing it all come together because it's a little fundraiser here and there and you don't really see the big picture until you're living it," Vikings Grade 12 forward Cammy Simon said. "Last year we got to go see how the [Swift Current] community came together and what they raised and it really inspired us to do the same thing. It really made us excited for the pink game."
Because the fundraiser is a pay-it-forward initiative, whoever plays against the host then hosts the game the following year.
Last year, Swift Current Comprehensive High School hosted the Vikings. Now that the Vikings have hosted Prince Albert's St. Mary's (they're the 23rd school to get involved), they will host Carlton Comprehensive High School next year.
Before the game, St. Mary's Grade 12 captain Kelsey Trumier thanked the Vikings staff, students, and volunteers that made the event possible, and presented the Vikings with their team's contribution.
"We are honoured as a team to be here," Trumier said. "It is great to use a platform like sports to raise awareness for something so much bigger than the game of basketball."
As for the game itself, it came down to the wire, with the Vikings holding on for a one-point win.
"We got into foul trouble and we had to do a few off the cuff things," Cottini said. "We didn't have any post players on at the end but my little forwards and guards managed to hold on for the win."
"I don't think it [showed] our potential," Simon added. "We've got to work a little bit on our defence. It was a little off...but other than that, we've improved so much since the beginning of the year and there's nowhere [to go] but up."
The Vikings now have two tournaments before regionals.
They travel to P.A. next weekend and then have a tournament in Weyburn the following week, before 5A regionals on March 16 and 17 (also in Weyburn). Because the Vikings are now in 5A, they'll have to finish top two out of seven teams at regionals in order to qualify for the provincial HOOPLA tournament.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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