Christian rivals meet for a cause bigger than basketball
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.”
Isaac Holmes of Cary Christian tries to shoot over Grace Christian’s Isaiah Anderson during Friday’s game at Grace Christian.