Ballin Up A Blowout, For Cancer [video]

Fans electrified the crowded Rio Mesa gym on Saturday, Jan. 7, as all five Cam High basketball teams faced off against their longtime rivals, Rio Mesa, in the ninth annual “Ball It Up For Cancer” exhibition game.

While the yearly “Ball It Up for Cancer” game revives a historic rivalry between cross-town foes, its main purpose, relieving economic stress on cancer patients, shines through over grudges and feuds.

Rio Mesa’s athletic director and head basketball coach, Chris Ruffinelli, originally created the event in 2008 and helps organize it every year. He partnered up with Cam High’s former head basketball coach, Allan Sadowsky, to use the rivalry games as a way to raise money. They both wanted to “give [their] player’s an opportunity to raise money for caner prevention and detection,” according to an article by the Community Memorial Health System. The event raised nearly $50,000 raised since its establishment in 2008.

Money is raised by selling tickets, snacks, hoodies, t-shirts and auctioning off items in a silent auction. Over 100 items, such as signed basketballs and discounts at local stores, were donated by both schools to be auctioned off or used as raffle prizes. The proceeds of the game are donated to Community Memorial Hospital and the Centers for Family Health patients who cannot afford early detection cancer screenings.

Even though Cam High switched leagues three years ago, the event continued and is now considered a tradition in the popular Cam High vs. Rio Mesa rivalry. “‘Ball it Up For Cancer’ is a great event. We help raise funds to battle against the terrible disease [that is] cancer. I’m glad we can be apart of it with Rio Mesa,” said Cam High boys basketball coach Mr. Michaeltore Smith.

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Last year, the Scorpions hosted the event and won a majority of the games against the Spartans. This year, Rio Mesa hosted the event and the slew of games tipped off at 1:30 p.m. Each year, the host switches between the two longtime rivals.

All levels of the boys and girls basketball teams defeated Rio Mesa in blowout fashion. Boys frosh-soph won 60-42, junior varsity 79-34, and varsity 73-42. Girls junior varsity won 57-16 and the varsity team won 64-31. The teams handed in wins one game at a time, and after the first few games the results seemed inevitable.

After the freshman and junior varsity teams finished, the varsity teams took to the court to battle it out.

The girls teams dominated their game as senior Cameran Bahnsen scored a game high of 19 points and fellow senior Bryne Kirksey chipped in with 11 points. “We worked well as a team,” said Bahnsen after the win. “I think we really recovered from the last game that we played.” With the win, the team holds a record of fifteen wins and only three losses as they head into the final stretch of the season.

After the game, people began to pile into the already packed gym to watch the final showdown of the day: the varsity boys game.

Sophomore Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds alone. He even showed off the team’s abilities with an incredible alley-oop dunk on the first play of the second half in an assist from teammate senior Jonah Cottrell. The dunk set the tone in an already Cam High-dominated game.

The intensity refused to die down even as the Scorpions’ lead extended. Senior Brandon Adair took a hard foul near the end of the second period, which, although appearing violent, did not affect his game or his spirits. “My shoulder will be sore tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll just try to rest, ice it.”

These five games assured Cam High basketball’s dominance over a cross-town rival with an undefeated day. “I think [the games were] awesome,” said Jaquez after the last game. “We [blew] them out.”

The total amount of money raised for this year has not been finalized, but the goal is to raise over $10,000 to donate to the aforementioned health centers.

Gaberiel Delacruz contributed to this story.