The girls basketball program closed out 2011 celebrating its past.
The Ravens hosted their first alumni game on Dec. 29, bringing together graduates from Royal Oak High School and the former Dondero and Kimball high schools as well as former and current coaches.
The Navy team, featuring Kimball and Dondero alumni along with the coaches, won 56-32 over the Grey team, made up of alumni from Royal Oak High.
Trisha Fantucci, an assistant coach with the Ravens varsity team and Kimball graduate from the class of 1999, was the game’s leading scorer with 21 points. Royal Oak junior varsity coach Rosie Wagner added 12. Beatrice Terrell (ROHS class of 2010) led the Grey team with 13 points.
Current Royal Oak head coach Brian Sopata said Fantucci was the alumni game’s most valuable player on and off the court.
“She started talking about it last season and this was really her idea,” Sopata said. “This fall she put the plan into motion spreading the word to former players via Facebook and word of mouth. She is the reason this event was so successful.”
Fifteen former players ended up playing in the game and a few others came back as spectators. Classes as far back as 1992 were represented on the court.
“I feel it's extremely important for our former players to know that they are always welcomed back and we want to hear about what is going on in their lives,” Sopata said. “I have always stressed that our program is about helping prepare these young woman for life. To hear about their future plans, successes, families, etc. is so rewarding for everyone.”
Serving as honorary coaches were long time Kimball girls basketball coach Frank Clouser as well as former Dondero girls basketball coach John O'Brien.
“We invited our former coaches back so they can keep it touch as well,” Sopata said. “Frank and John have given endless hours of their lives to the Royal Oak community and I think it's important to recognize that as well.”
Spectators were encouraged to bring canned good donations in place of any entrance fee. The cans were donated to the Gleaners Food Bank.
Current ROHS players worked behind the scenes helping to set up for the event, run the scoreboard, keep the scorebook, as well as cheer the former players on.
“I think our current players had a lot of fun and are also excited that there is a game in place for them to be a part of in the future,” Sopata said. “They especially enjoyed watching some of their coaches out there playing. They enjoyed reminding Fantucci to concentrate on her free throws and talked to her the way a coach would talk to a player.”
Fans, players, and coaches were served pizza and beverages following the game.
“All in all it was a great night to celebrate the game of basketball in Royal Oak,” Sopata said. “We can't wait to host our second annual game next year.”
The Ravens closed out 2011 with a 6-1 record and will start 2012 with a game at Oak Park on Tuesday.