NHS students, faculty face off for cancer research
NAUGATUCK — There is no love lost between students and faculty at Naugatuck High School — on the basketball court that is.
NHS hosted its 7th annual Clash for the Cure basketball game March 27. The game pits players from the girls and boys varsity basketball teams versus faculty — with a handful of alumni sprinkled in — on the hardwood.
The rivalry between the lines is a heated one, but the game is about much more than basketball supremacy.
All of the money raised from ticket sales and during the game benefits the school’s Pan-Mass Challenge bike team, “Blood, Sweat, Tears & Gears.” The challenge is a two-day, 192-mile bicycle ride from Sturbridge, Mass to Provincetown, Mass. The annual ride raises millions of dollars a year for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Seated in the crowd last week was 12-year-old Justin DaSilva of Prospect. DaSilva has Ewings Sarcoma, a bone cancer. For the past three years, DaSilva has been the guest of honor at the Clash for the Cure. He is also a Pedal Partner of the Blood, Sweat, Tears & Gears team, which rides in honor of him.
“I think it’s really nice and very considerate,” said DaSilva, a seventh-grader at Long River Middle School in Prospect, about being honored.
Prior to the game, DaSilva received a team shirt from the students and a standing ovation from the crowd.
“It’s real big,” said NHS senior and DECA officer Jessica Butler about DaSilva coming out for the game. “We’re playing for him.”
The game is organized and hosted by the school’s DECA class. DECA is an international association of high school students interested in pursuing careers in marketing, management, finance or entrepreneurship.
“It’s an application of what they learn in class,” said Tim Reilly, a teacher at NHS, DECA advisor and member of Blood, Sweat, Tears & Gears.
Butler along with fellow senior and DECA officer Angelina Piccirillo served as co-coordinators for this year’s Clash.
Butler and Piccirillo said putting on the event provides a great lesson in marketing and sales. Each class tries to outdo the last as far as ticket sales, they said.
“It just turns into a huge competition between the classes,” Piccirillo said.
This year’s DECA class outdid themselves. Before the doors opened, 735 tickets were bought. More than 800 tickets were sold overall.
Reilly said the goal is to pay for one rider in the Pan-Mass Challenge. Each rider commits to raising $4,300 to participate in the ride, according to Reilly.
Reilly said this year’s Clash was the first one to meet that goal. He said he’s really proud of the DECA students and the players for their work.
Reilly added he’s thankful for the continuous support of the school, students and community year after year.
The game also didn’t disappoint.
Heading into the annual showdown the students were looking to avenge last year’s loss to the faculty. After 16 minutes of up-and-down action filled with plenty of trash talking, the students held a 34-30 lead at halftime.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the second half, but four quarters were not enough. As the final buzzer of regulation sounded, the game sat knotted at 56-56.
The grudge match wasn’t settled after 3 minutes of the first overtime either. It took double overtime for the students to exact their revenge and claim a 65-62 victory.
Amid the students’ celebration on the court, the meaning of the evening was not lost. After winning the game, the students presented DaSilva with the trophy.