Playing with purpose

As breast cancer continues to be a problem throughout the nation, many people are doing their best locally to raise awareness and funds to help fight back.

The Alpena High School and Alpena Community College basketball teams have teamed up for the third annual “Hoops for Hope” pink basketball games. These games are designed to raise funds for the ARMC Mammography Subsidy fund. Since its formation in 2004, it has helped 1,615 women afford a mammogram.

The first pink game will be hosted by the Alpena girls basketball team tonight against Gaylord. The girls will wear pink uniforms during the game. Both high school games are lowering admission to a dollar to encourage more fans to attend. Fifty-fifty tickets will be sold as will pink uniforms and breast cancer awareness T-shirts.

T-shirts will be available at the games and also at the ACC bookstore, the AHS Campus Closet and the ARMC development department for a minimum $10 donation.

The Alpena girls fought a tough game against Gaylord the last time they played the Blue Devils, leading them by nine points in the first half. The Wildcats ran into trouble in the second half when Gaylord’s top shooter Mackenzie Edwards scored 13 points to help Gaylord pull out a win.

“A key for us will be in shutting down Mackenzie. We’ll focus on boxing her out and using a two-guard defense and a three zone. They’re a little shorter than us, so I think we can stretch our zone a bit if necessary,” Alpena coach Jenny Poli said.

A few key players should help fire Alpena’s offense.

“We always look to Christina Kollien offensively, she’s our top scorer. Ami Milligan had a career-high last game with 12 points including a few threes, so we’re hoping she can keep up with her shooting streak. Jenna Talbot also had eight points and has been doing really well lately,” Poli said.

The Alpena boys basketball team will host Cadillac next Thursday and tickets will also be one dollar. The Wildcats will wear pink shirts during warm-ups but will otherwise wear their normal jerseys during the game.

Alpena coach John Pintar is expecting a real challenge from Cadillac and believes his team has what it takes to give Cadillac a run for its money.

“They’re tied for first in the league right now and they’ve been undefeated over the last several games,” he said. “The key for us is to focus on beating them in aggressive, physical play. Our defense is going to have to put big pressure on them to open up offensive chances for players like Luke (Cordes), Tyler (Pintar), Kam (Fitzek) and Andy (Marwede). Defensively, everybody is going to have to do their best and work together.”

The ACC men’s team will host Henry Ford next Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The Lumberjacks will wear pink warm-up T-shirts, but will not wear pink jerseys the whole game.

The Lumberjacks have had some struggles in conference play and have yet to beat Henry Ford.

ACC coach Frank McCourt thinks that can change however.

“They rebound really well and they drive to the hole really well too. We’re gonna have to keep them out of the paint with tough defense to open up room for our offense,” he said.

McCourt believes his two starting guards may be key to opening up big offensive opportunities.

“Shane Hentkowski is a really good defender. Kharri Dailey is also a really good defender. All those tall players don’t seem to bother him. He and Lavario Smith will be our big offensive focus,” he said.

The ACC women’s team will play Henry Ford next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and will wear pink jerseys for the whole game.

“We’re gonna have to come out and play together and have fun. Basketball is a game and it needs to be fun and the girls play best when they’re having fun together,” ACC coach Bobby Allen said.

Like McCourt, Allen is looking to his guards to help propel his team forward.

“Lauren Seibert and Ashleigh Monticello are my offensive generals and we’re gonna have to rely on them putting the girls in the right spot. They got to set up the plays and get the girls fired up to win,” he said.

Local businesses are also doing their part to help out. The Upper Cut Salon and the Figurehead are offering pink hair extensions for $5 donations. The extensions are designed to be easily integrated into your hair to show support.

People interested in the extensions can also get them next Saturday before the ACC games. They can also call the Upper Cut Salon at 356-3455 or the Figurehead at 356-4412 to set up an appointment.