School hosts first basketball tournament

Reigning league champions challenge Bay Area schools for charity.

Sophomore Jade Despanie drives the lane against a Lincoln High School player. The Cubs played Branson High School the second day of the tournament.

Laura Mogannam, In-House Media Editor

Convent High School hosted the 4th Annual Hoops vs. Cancer Classic basketball tournament for the first time this past weekend, inviting high school teams from across the Bay Area to play to raise money for cancer research.

Athletic Director Anthony Thomas, who is new to the Convent & Stuart Hall community this year, says he created the tournament at Branson High School in 2013 to honor a parent who had died of cancer.

“We created this basketball tournament to not only raise awareness,” Thomas said, “but to hopefully raise some funds to donate to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.”

Sandra Kay Yow, former coach of the North Carolina State women’s basketball team founded the fund bearing her name to support cancer research and provide hope for those battling the disease.

“My god mom is a breast cancer survivor, so it’s really big for me to see that my school is supporting something that hits home for me,” senior Starneisia Hooper said. “It shows me that the school really does care about the greater good of things outside of our community.”

The tournament is in a transition period this year because of its move from Branson to Convent, according to Thomas.

“As part of the shift, we might not be making a donation this year as much as just playing in the basketball tournament,” Thomas said. “We’ll get into that starting next year.”

“We are really trying to engage our community through discussion and education around cancer and support survivors and research.”

Branson held events from penny drives to a 5k run to raise money for the charity. Thomas says he wants to start some of those events next year at Convent.

“Every year we challenge the other schools that are coming to do something for their community to raise money,” Thomas said. “The school that raises the most money during the week gets a plaque.”

But raising money is not the most import part of the tournament, according to Thomas.

“We have had speakers or survivors come in and talk about breast cancer,” Thomas said. “We are really trying to engage our community through discussion and education around cancer and support survivors and research. That’s what we are going to next year.”

The events would also provide a way for people who cannot attend the tournament to support breast cancer research, according to junior Kiki Apple.

“The tournament supports a really great cause and I’m glad that Mr. Thomas brought it to our community,” Apple said. “It really shows how strong we are and how much we support each other as females.”