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Bay-Faith rivalry means more this year


'Gray Out' fundraising event set for Saturday's showdown



FINDING A CURE FOR CANCER On Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Faith Christian High School, 5525 Highway 67, the Faith and Williams Bay boys basketball teams will square off, but it will be more than just a game. The two schools are coming together to sell gray T-shirts for $10 each, with proceeds going to "The Cure Starts Now," a program dedicated to cancer research. Usually heated rivals, the two schools came together this year as a result of two children dying in the last year of cancer, one a third-grader at Faith Christian School. Both student councils collaborated on the idea.
December 08, 2010 | 08:38 AM
Williams Bay — For years, the Faith Christian and Williams Bay boys basketball teams have engaged in a heated rivalry.

Close games, physical play and even hard feelings are commonplace at games. It's one of those rivalries where no matter what the team's records are, all players bring it with deep passion. It's safe to say the two schools haven't always been the best of friends.

But tragedy brings people together, and in Saturday's 2:30 p.m. upcoming showdown at Faith, the community's true colors will shine through.

In October, Faith Christian senior and student council member Cayla Learman came to the school's administrator Craig Skrede with an idea for a fundraiser to fight cancer. Back in the spring, two children close to Learman, a third-grader from Faith and a 12-year-old girl from her church, passed away from cancer. Learman's parish member died of a rare brain cancer, Diffuse Instrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. It is one of the most resistant cancers to chemotherapy, and it primarily affects children.

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So Learman presented the idea to Williams Bay High School, eyeing Saturday's basketball game as a target for a "Gray Out," an event where players and fans all wear gray T-shirts as a sign of unity.

"We needed to do something," Learman said Monday. "The mother of the parish member who died posted the idea on Facebook hoping someone would do it. I loved the idea. The main thing is the two schools coming together for one cause. I felt it was time as a young adult to bring us all together and fight against cancer."

Since the annual contest brings out plenty of community members and alumni, Learman thought the game was the perfect time. In the end, she hopes this can be a regular event.

"We need to focus on unity instead of how we've been rivals all these years," Learman said.

Williams Bay at-risk coordinator Charley Mestek said the theme of the game is "one game, one cause, one community." He added as of Monday, the event has raised approximately $1,200.

"The best thing is the kids took it and ran with it," Mestek said. "It's a pretty neat thing. We're all in this together."

Skrede said the game will take on extra meaning at Faith.

"We are so pleased to have rival schools come together and join in this purpose," he said. "Losing a child last year, this is very close to our hearts."

Anybody's game

The Bay is coming off a blowout victory at the hands of Faith last year, but this rivalry has been pretty evenly matched since Troy Nottestad took over the Bulldogs program seven years ago.

The teams are knotted up at 4-4 during the last seven years, highlighted by two Faith wins in 2008 including a playoff victory.

While the game is important, Faith coach Brian Pollard understands the true relevance of Saturday's tilt.

"Instead of the regular blue and orange, both teams will be wearing gray shirts in warm-ups," he said. "I'm pretty impressed that the kids put this together, it's for a greater cause. It's a lot of work, and kids don't have to do that."

On the floor, both teams have stumbled so far to 0-2 records. The Bulldogs were blown out by Marshall Saturday and Clinton in the first game of the year.

As for Faith, the Eagles are hanging with opponents. They fell to Burlington Catholic Central by nine points and Ethan Allen by six.

Thus far, junior center Ben Sass has played like a man possessed, averaging 20.5 points and more than 10 rebounds per contest.

"Ben was dominant against Ethan Allen," Pollard said. "Nobody could stop him inside. I'm proud of the way our guys have fought in these games so far."

While the Bay has had early trouble, junior forward Lawrence Crement is punishing opposing defenses. Crement has posted averages of 15 points and 7.5 rebounds thus far, including a 20-point effort against Marshall. All 20 points came in the second and third quarters.

While Faith will rely on its size, Bay will utilize its quickness up and down the court, led by guards Adam Lechelt, Marcos Quiles and Chad Pharris.

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