Coaches vs Cancer Game Packs Northport

Coaches and players from Whitman and Northport gather for a quick photo prior to the game.
Coaches and players from Whitman and Northport gather for a quick photo prior to the game.
Whitman's Essence Casey, #22 works thru Northport defenders Dorrien Van Dyke, #31 and Allie Clarke, #44.
Whitman's Essence Casey, #22 works thru Northport defenders Dorrien Van Dyke, #31 and Allie Clarke, #44.
Kelly Bilodeau heads to the basket.
Kelly Bilodeau heads to the basket.
left to right: Katira Jemmott, Essence Casey, Marissa Olsen and Selena Ortiz.
left to right: Katira Jemmott, Essence Casey, Marissa Olsen and Selena Ortiz.
Kelly Bilodeau drew lots of company under the basket.
Kelly Bilodeau drew lots of company under the basket.

In the opening round of this year’s Coaches vs. Cancer Basketball Classic, Whitman’s boys and girls varsity teams traveled to Northport. While the Tigers of Northport scored more baskets, winning both games of the fifth annual classic, the cause is the real winner.

The Coaches vs. Cancer program is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The program seeks to increase cancer awareness and promote healthy living among students, faculty and staff, fans, and the community at large. Information on donations made during the month of January, when both series are played, will be available after final counting, but this year may set a record.

The Lady Wildcats, 7-1 in overall play, were up first in front of a capacity crowd of 1,200 and went basket for basket with their rival team, also 7-1 overall. Up by 1 point after the first period, Whitman kept the pressure on but gave up 5 points, ending the first half down 26-21. Northport continued their 3-point barrage, with nine 3-pointers in the game, taking Whitman into the fourth and final period up by 3.  Northport’s 23-15 scoring spree gave them the win 61-50 and gave them sole possession of first place in Suffolk’s League II, for now.

Whitman’s boys team looked up at their opponents and knew that had a battle on their hands. Northport’s Tigers post an average height of 6’ 5”, and their standout player, Luke Petrasek, at 6’ 9”, had little trouble posting 10 rebounds and 8 blocked shots from the Wildcats. At the end of the first period, and down 13-8, the Wildcats fought back behind tough play from Kieran Elmore (10 pts) and Travaun Patron (9 pts) to end the first half down by two. Strong defensive play by the Tigers kept Wildcats scoring to 6 in the third period, and even though the Wildcats played a good fourth period, the hole was too deep to climb out of, giving Northport a 52-39 win.

The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and this fan favorite rivalry with Northport continues on Whitman’s home turf on Tuesday, January 29, with the girls’ contest starting at 5pm and the boys tipping off at 7pm, all in Whitman’s North Gym.