The stars of the past aligned themselves at Hope Secondary last Tuesday, coming back to take on the senior girls and boys for the annual alumni basketball games.
A crowd of about 100 gathered in the stands for the back-to-back games, which began at 6 p.m.
The women reached all the way back to 1984 for Carmen Pernitsky, while 1987 grad Tammy Nazarchuk chose to stay in her civies and coach the Mustangs.
Pat Wiens, who coached girls’ basketball for eight years before moving to Abbotsford in 2010, came back as guest coach for the alumni women.
The women got off to a quick start, then let the senior girls sneak back to within five before sprinting for a 24-13 lead at the half.
“Early on in the game I suggested that we relax a little bit so we could pace ourselves and the response I got warmed my heart,” said coach Wiens.
“All the grads said, ‘forget that, coach Pat, we want to kick their butts!
“And kick they did. I believe that the girls from 2002 through 2010 plus Carmen proved that some things get better and richer with time,” said Wiens.
“It didn’t take long for the girls to find their groove. They seemed to remember each others’ strengths and find ways of making their team-mates look as though they have never stopped playing.
“Except for Carmen, I coached each of the girls that played and I was thoroughly impressed with the knowledge and skill they have retained.
“This was my first effort coaching the alumni team and it felt great to be on the bench again,” added Wiens.
“I really miss the excitement of the game and the competitive nature of the young ladies.
“Carmen played so strong that it seemed as though she finished high school just before I started coaching. The unwavering strength of Karli and Grace [Moffoot] under the hoop made it seem easy for Janelle [Brouwer] and Kaileigh to execute pin point passing to the paint.
“Jaclyn [McNicol’s] aggressive rebounding led to a couple of smooth feeds to the quick, and still spunky, Taylor [Kjemhus] — and Becca Arrowsmith also demonstrated speed that was difficult to match on a couple of fast-break lay-ups. The game was capped off nicely when Richelle Willick dropped in a three,” said Wiens.
The alumni women went on to win the game 55-21.
Grads of 2008, Karli Tepasse and Kaileigh Schofield were co-organizers of the event, which raised funds for the senior teams.
“I am so proud of all the girls that played and I am particularly proud of Karli and Kaileigh for all the effort they put into organizing the evening,” said Wiens.
“As I coached the team through those years, we always stressed the importance of giving back to your community and this night was a fine example of such an effort.”
During the gap between the two games, Schofield organized a half-court free throw contest. Shooters paid a toonie a shot for a chance to win $150. Craig Cross set the stage by draining his first shot.
Taylor Kjemhus got her third attempt in — and Brad Willock, grad of ‘84 — was whiffing on his first four throws, before sinking his fifth.
The trio had a rock-paper-scissors draw to see who would shoot first in the shoot-off. Cross missed his first, then Kjemhus hit the rim and out.
Willock remembered his previous shot and sank the winner.
“Maybe next year they should have that Super-Brad stand at half court and they could just toss the ball to him for a sure three-pointer,” quipped Wiens.
The alumni men were built mostly of recent grads — but 1991 grad Steve Cameron returned, playing a physical game under the basket.
Cameron lives in Hope but works as a vehicle technician at the military base in Chilliwack. Despite having nearly 15 years on his team-mates, he was holding his ground.
“I run every day in the gym down there,” said Cameron. “It’s required — but I like to keep in shape anyway.”
Led by Jay Dongen, the Mustang boys had an 11-8 edge after one quarter — then the alumni men exploded for a 16-5 scoring differential in the second frame, for a 24-16 lead at the half.
The boys rebounded, outscoring the men in the final two quarters.
Linden Willock and Simon Kim drained a trey each for the men late in the game (Linden had 4 on the night) — but Dongen replied with two of his own and Dakota Jones drained another for the boys.
With 1:33 remaining, the men were clinging to a four-point lead. 2010 grad Wilson Willock jammed a lay-up but the ball bounced out and the Mustangs raced down the floor but couldn’t drain their shot.
The men then controlled the ball with hard cross-court passes and time wound down to the 56-52 ending.
Rookie head coach Jeff Holgate said, “I think the boys should be proud of themselves. They played very well as a team — and I think they surprised the men by almost beating them.”