The Johnston boys and girls basketball teams celebrated their Coaches vs. Cancer Suits & Sneakers event this week when the Panther boys hosted Toll Gate and the girls hosted Cranston West.
The event, which was organized by sophomore Emily Iannuccilli, was created to honor those who have battled cancer or are currently battling cancer. Spectators were encouraged to wear pink along with the competing teams, and were also invited to fill out a "Today, I Honor" sign for someone in their lives who has been touched by cancer, which was displayed on the gymnasium wall.
Many former Johnston athletes and coaches made the trip to support the cause, and the Johnston Fire Department Local 1950 Honor Guard presented the colors for the National Anthem on both nights. The third and fourth grade girls teams from the Johnston Recreation/Scituate Youth Basketball League played a short game during halftime of the girls game.
As of Wednesday morning, the teams raised over $2,600 for the American Cancer Society.
"For our first year putting this on, it exceeded our expectations. It was great to see such a strong turnout on both nights, and really showed what the Johnston community can do,” said Johnston girls coach Meghan Reall. “It was a great opportunity for the boys and girls teams to come together to support not only each other, but something bigger than basketball. I look forward to making this an annual event and am excited to see it grow each year."
The Panther boys went on to beat Toll Gate 52-47 in a tough battle after dropping back-to-back games.
Despite taking a 28-19 lead into the halftime break, the Panthers would need their best effort down the stretch to hold off the surging Titans.
Anthony Tavares had a big game for the Panthers, hitting a key three-pointer and three foul shots to seal the win late in the game.
Thomas Zednik led Johnston with 13 points while Tavares added 12 and Jay Canton 10. Justin Powell also chipped in eight points in the victory.
“It was a good win for us, they’re a tough team. We wanted to try to get the ball to the inside more and we were able to do that. Zednik did a good job on the inside, our guards did a good job of getting to the basket, Tavares got to the foul line, they did a real nice job and came up big down the stretch.”
“Before the game, we told the kids that this was a new season. We’ve got a tough stretch coming up, so we need to start another winning streak. The key will be to stay rested between games and to make the most of practice (time). It’s tough to practice when you have so many games, so we just need to keep working on our sets, get those repetitions, and keep working hard every game.”
The Lady Falcons cruised to the 55-32 victory of Johnston.
Sarah Bandoma led the Panthers with 10 points scored while Abby Clesas added nine and Kaylin Zalewski six.