Valley Catholic photo
Crowd cheers as two JV2 teams play before a crowd and news team at Valley Catholic.
Valley Catholic photo
Crowd cheers as two JV2 teams play before a crowd and news team at Valley Catholic.
BEAVERTON — It was one of those instances when everything comes together, seemingly of its own accord. It was, in a word, magical. How did an after-school JV2 basketball game turn into one of the year’s most-loved events at Valley Catholic, and turn up on the evening news as well?

At Valley Catholic High School, everybody gets to play; they have a no-cut athletics policy. This season, more than 60 boys came out for basketball. The Valiants’ 3A competitors simply didn’t have enough teams to play against Valley Catholic’s four.

The fourth team alone, JV2 White, has 19 boys on the roster, all freshmen and sophomores. So their coach, Valley Catholic religion Teacher Dan Hannon, split the team and entered them in the CYO league, coaching both teams. The two teams were scheduled to play against each other last Sunday at Beaverton Hoop YMCA, but Hannon made arrangements for them to play instead in their own gym.

Meanwhile, during Catholic Schools Week, one of the many activities at the high school was a coin drive to support junior Megan Keagbine’s participation in a half marathon to be held in Washington DC on April 27. The run will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Megan, who lost her brother Danny to cancer in 2011, is committed to honoring her brother’s memory and helping to support cancer research. Danny, a Valley Catholic alumnus, graduated in 2008.

Here is where the two seemingly unrelated stories come together. The school has a new tradition begun by the student body officers: to shine the spotlight on the boys JV2 team. As Carter Buuck, student body president, told FOX 12 reporter Andrew Padula, “Everybody’s supported in this school, no matter your year, rank or social status.” What better game to shine the spotlight on than this Valiant vs. Valiant JV2 matchup? And since the game fell right in the middle of Catholic Schools Week, it was natural to add the fundraising for Megan during halftime. That idea was the brainchild of Luke Waitrovich, basketball fan and Valley Catholic math and religion teacher.

With help from Mary Donovan, campus life director, and the student body officers, the two teachers quickly put the event together. Hannon, who couldn’t coach both teams at once, found a second coach in Principal Ross Thomas, who put his many years of basketball coaching experience to good use. Joel Sobotka, athletic director,  signed up two varsity referees.

On Tuesday afternoon, sensing that this event was going to be special, Buuck took a chance and emailed FOX, asking them if they would come do a news story. They liked the idea.

The atmosphere was like a high-stakes varsity game. Players were introduced just like the varsity players: with loud music, an announcer and spotlights. The pep band played. A large number of faculty, including VCS President Bob Weber, was there.

The “Blue Crew,” Valley Catholic’s student-led athletic fan club, like the JV2 team, split in two: the white crew (sophomores and seniors) and the blue crew (freshmen and juniors). They were led by Valley Catholic's official “Super Fan,” senior Liam Walsh.  

Exciting, back-and-forth play made it easy for the crowd to shout for all they were worth. They rushed the court when freshman Venkat Doddapaneni sunk a three-pointer (one of his four) at the halftime buzzer. And even though the ending wasn’t a “buzzer beater,” the game was so fun and exciting that the whole crowd came pouring out of the bleachers in jubilation again as soon as it was over. The mixture of surprise and joy on the players’ faces was heartwarming and contagious.

Although the score wasn’t the important part, Thomas’ white team won 51-43. “It’s been a long time between wins for me,” Thomas quipped.

During halftime, money was raised by selling tickets for a raffle prize of two movie tickets and selling chances to make a basket and win a two-liter bottle of pop. The event raised $90 for Keagbine’s half marathon, most of which came from the students’ own pockets.

That the game fell during Catholic Schools Week was sheer coincidence. Yet the event perfectly demonstrated the virtues of Catholic schools: service, community and compassion. That was no coincidence.  

— The writer is communications specialist for the SSMO Ministries Corporation.