Berkshire and Cardinal graduates play a basketball game designed to help today's student-athletes.
Berkshire and Cardinal have always been better than other Geauga County schools at promoting their history and fostering their natural rivalry.
Last weekend it was on display again as the graduates played two alumni basketball games at Berkshire High School.
Some of the legends and legends-in-their-own-minds, as they say, took to the floor. There were two close games, but Berkshire finished and Cardinal faded in both.
In the 31-and-over contest, the Huskies led almost from the beginning, with strong performances from Paul Domen and Kurtis Fisher.
But a second-half spate of points by John Starr, assisted by Rich Klemencic and Ken Veon, helped the Badgers pull off the win, 32-31.
“They did, inch by inch,” said Domen, a 1998 graduate, of the Badgers comeback. “But, I don’t know; we couldn’t make any shots.”
Of course, the game was fun, and it took the older generation some time to get loose.
When Domen, who was joined on the team by his brother Bill, was asked how he felt after the game, he said: “Old.”
“That’s a long time to run,” he continued, smiling. “It’s been a long time since we played a game like this. It’s rough when you get old.”
“I felt good,” said Bill, a 1992 graduate. “It was good to play Burton again.”
Bill said the Huskies tried to stall up 10 points in the game’s final five minutes. “And we took a few shots a little bit earlier than we thought. They went on a little bit of a run at the end.”
The Badgers actually got things going when Patrick Chapman, Berkshire’s junior varsity coach, got a technical foul in the second half.
It was mostly just fun, but the Badgers’ fortunes turned at that point.
Berkshire’s Dan Goff (1999) was the youngest Badger on the floor.
“We knew we had 10 and they had nine,” he said. “So we knew we were just going to go get them in the second half.”
“We always had them exactly where we wanted them,” said Goff, whose brother Tim was the school’s all-time leading scorer. “Timmy was fun to watch, but let’s be honest.” He paused, laughing. “I have a good coach in Tim Goff, he taught me how to do what I do.”
Veon, a 1993 Berkshire graduate, was the biggest guy on the court, yet his passing was key.
How did he feel?
“Like I was tired,” he said. “I was out of breath.”
Veon said the 20 points Berkshire scored in the game’s first 30 minutes made a comeback an “insurmountable” proposition.
How did they pull it off?
“It was John Starr. He had his wind all night.”
“It was a lot of fun,” Starr (1989) said as he untied his shoes after the game. “I was hoping (Klemencic) would shoot it, but he kept passing it. Richie was making some nice passes.”
“Don’t forget your teammates,” said Mark Dingman (1990) as he walked by. “That’s rule No. 1”
“Teammates are great,” Starr continued, laughing. “It was all them.”
In another “three or four hours” they would have played even better, he said.
“He knows better,” said Klemencic (1992). “He knows I won’t shoot. Especially if I see him coming. It was a lot of fun — good times.”
Mike Dingman (1990), Luke Busby (1990), Kerry Martin (1993), Tony Garcia (1996) and Matt Janssen (1997) also participated in the game.
For the Huskies, it was Bob Johnson (1992), Bill Kumher (1998), Bill Spencer (1994), John Urbanowicz (1992), Scott Cook (1974) and Lance Fisher (2003) rounding out the roster.
Then, in the 30 and under game, or “baby game” as one person remarked, the level of play was much higher, and a bit more contested, as some early hard fouls set an aggressive tone.
The Huskies, despite having only seven players, led most of the game but lost 59-56 at the end.
Alec Hill said he felt terrible before laughing. “No, I felt fine,” he said. Hill hit multiple 3-pointers just as he had in high school.
“It was pretty rough, though. I haven’t played in this gym in a long time,” he said. Hill and his teammates — Tyler Walters, Adam Farmwald, Tyler Peters, Jason Farmwald, Moe Qureshi and Jon Thompson — still play together most Saturdays.
“It took me a little while to play that hard again,” Walters said, who played at Lake Erie College. “This was definitely fun. We had a good time.”
He continued: “We kind of ran out of gas there at the end.”
Berkshire had 10 guys, and it was the Blair Brothers — Kelly and Kyle — who were considered the players of the game by Jason Adkins and Jim Kellogg, G-TV commentators during the game.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Kelly, who is an assistant basketball coach at Hiram College and still plays with college players. “I’m sure I won’t agree with that in the morning.”
He continued: “The cool part about it, having the game before, seeing all those guys.”
He and Kyle still play together a lot in the backyard. And it’s competitive.
“Our relationship is a lot better off the court,” he said.
Chris Fisher, Brian Hiscox, Craig Voorhees, Ben Hess, Dave Owen, Billy Poole, Josh Hess and Tim Ludlow all participated for Berkshire. Qureshi is just one year removed from high school.
“Some of the guys I’ve never played with,” he said. “It was a different environment, but it was a lot of fun.
“It’s a game. We’re out here for fun.”
And, of course, a small bit of the usual trash talk between these very close communities.
“Hey,” Goff said after it was all done. “A-B-C.”
The game was taped by G-TV; a DVD can be purchased by visiting www.geaugatv.org. For more photos visit http://smu.gs/1jR0wNy.
While the game was well attended, organizers hope for even larger crowds in the future, with proceeds going towards both school’s athletic boosters.
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