STRUTHERS - Seton Academy (Ill.) coach Brandon Thomas wanted to jump on the chance to take his players out of Chicago.
Playing against an established St. Vincent-St. Mary team helped as well in the nightcap of this five-game showcase where the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley presented the "Hope Classic: High School Basketball Showcase" Saturday at the Struthers Field House.
The inaugural event featured 10 teams (six boys and four girls) from the area, state and beyond in a one-day event to raise money for chronically and/or terminally ill children.
"Chicago has so many distractions," Thomas said of his team that beat SV-SM, 47-44. "Any time you can get your team away from the city, it gives an opportunity to bond. I felt like we won before we took the court because we became a little bit closer as a team. The bus ride down, guys are joking with each other, watching movies, drawing on each other's faces while they're sleeping."
SV-SM coach Dru Joyce said his team jumped at a chance to support a good cause.
"It was an opportunity to play a good team from outside the area, play somebody we're not used to seeing," he said. "But, the main this is we're going to support a good cause. I wish we could've played a little bit better, but it is what it is."
Hope Classic coordinator Tony Spano was pleased with the event.
"We feel we've done a great job off getting teams here from a variety of different areas," he said. "It's an opportunity to bring talent into the local area. We feel to have it here at the Field House is a great opportunity for the kids. We feel it to be a unique opportunity for the area itself."
STRUTHERS GIRLS WIN: McKenna Shives had 15 points, while Ashleigh Ryan put in 11 as the Wildcats pulled away from Canton Central Catholic with a 15-9 fourth quarter in a 48-37 victory.
Aaliyah Dotson had 11 points, while Katie Nixdorf added 10 for the Crusaders.
The Struthers girls improved to 5-0.
Next up for Struthers is a home game on Wednesday against Salem.
NDCL DOMINATES STRUTHERS BOYS: John Cirillo had a game-high 22 points, while Christopher Shkil added 16 to lead Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin over Struthers, 65-24.
ND-CL took a 32-9 halftime lead.
Dave Stewart led Struthers (2-2) with seven points.
The Struthers' boys are next in action on Tuesday as it hosts Salem in a non-conference game.
NOTES: Magnificat beat the ND-CL girls in the opener, 45-26. There were plenty of college scouts in attendance at Saturday's game, especially for the last two games. Most notably, the University of Iowa was in attendance. Former Cleveland Brown Felix Wright was on hand as the honorary chairman of the event. No one won the HausAutoGroup.com $10,000 Cash Prize Miracle Half-Court Shot at halftime of the Seton Academy-SV-SM game.