Chris­tian ri­vals meet for a cause big­ger than bas­ket­ball

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JONAS POPE IV [email protected]­ald­sun.com Jonas E. Pope IV: 919-829-8911, @JEPopeIV

Grace Chris­tian and Cary Chris­tian got to­gether for a good cause on Fri­day night and a bas­ket­ball game broke out.

The Ea­gles hosted the Knights in the schools an­nual Play4Kay game. The event raised money to sup­port Breast Can­cer Aware­ness in honor of for­mer N.C. State women’s bas­ket­ball coach Kay Yow, who passed away in 2009.

Lo­cated just five miles apart, there is no love lost be­tween Grace and Cary, but for one night they set their dif­fer­ences aside to raise money for a good cause. The goal for the evening was to raise $10,000. Be­fore the start of the fourth quar­ter it was an­nounced that $14,000 had been raised. The fourth quar­ter was right around the time the game got good.

The Knights bat­tled back from a dou­ble-digit deficit to cut the Ea­gles’ lead to five, but Grace got some big bas­kets down the stretch to win, 64-54.

The ac­tual game served as a back­drop for the Pink Out evening in front of a ca­pac­ity crowd, most of the fans wear­ing at least one pink item. In the girls’ game even the ball was pink.

Grace’s Play4Kay game was started years ago by for­mer coach, John Green, now at Wake Chris­tian Acad­emy.

“Each year it’s got­ten bet­ter,” Ea­gles coach DeShan­non Mor­ris said. “It’s very im­por­tant, it’s very big. We’ve had peo­ple who have been af­fected by can­cer, and it’s a great way to show how much we care, how much we love and sup­port them.”

The game it­self had fans on the edge of their seats in the fourth quar­ter. Grace (15-11, 4-0) en­tered the fourth quar­ter up by 15. But the Knights (11-8, 2-2) bat­tled back, cut­ting the lead to four with 2:06 re­main­ing af­ter a bas­ket from Seth Cullen. The Ea­gles then missed three straight from the foul line, but af­ter the third miss, 6-11 for­ward Jay­lon Gib­son came up with the of­fen­sive re­bound and put­back that seemed to seal the deal.

Gib­son, who will play next sea­son at Wake For­est, fin­ished with 21 points, and Jay­lon Walker added 20. Brit­ton Kilby added 18 for the Grace, who never trailed and jumped out to a 7-0 early lead in the first quar­ter, set­ting the tone for the evening.

Isaac Holmes led Cary with 18 points but got in­jured late in the fourth quar­ter and did not re­turn. Cullen added 16 for the Knights.

“Any­time we play Cary Chris­tian it’s al­ways a good game,” Mor­ris said. “We know ev­ery time we play those guys we are go­ing to get a great game, so hats off to them.”

When the lead went from 15 to five in a mat­ter of mo­ments, Mor­ris said his first thought was “here we go again.” But his team, af­ter strug­gling from the foul line most of the fourth quar­ter, hit some clutch ones down the stretch, espe­cially Gib­son, who Mor­ris makes shoot 100 free throws each day af­ter prac­tice. That paid off in the fi­nal min­utes as Gib­son sent the Knights pack­ing, giv­ing Grace the reg­u­larsea­son sweep over their ri­vals. But Gib­son, like every­one else in the build­ing, re­al­ized this night was about more than bas­ket­ball.

“We’re play­ing for a big­ger cause,” Gib­son said. “It shows that we can use our plat­form. When you get a group of peo­ple to­gether with one mind­set, one goal, you can do any­thing.”

FABIAN RADULESCU new­sob­server.com

Isaac Holmes of Cary Chris­tian tries to shoot over Grace Chris­tian’s Isa­iah An­der­son dur­ing Fri­day’s game at Grace Chris­tian.

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