Teachers and staff at West Jessamine High School suited up and took the floor against students Friday, but both teams had the same game plan — raising money for tornado relief in West Liberty.
The game was coordinated by the school’s Beta Club with tickets sold ahead of time at $3 a piece. At halftime, nearly $1,000 had already been raised to go to West Liberty High School’s youth-services center.
Beta Club president Amy Gatliff said there had been some healthy trash-talking between students and staff throughout the week.
“My English teacher is playing, and he’s been on the boys all week, just excited and getting people to buy tickets, so (the enthusiasm) has definitely been helpful,” Gatliff said.
The student team consisted of six players from the boys’ varsity team and four from the girls’ varsity team, with two students coaching. The staff team included two assistant principals, six teachers, an instructional assistant, a former teacher and the school receptionist, with another teacher coaching.
The students got off to a quick start behind junior Carson Daniel, who scored 10 of their first 12 points. The staff team recovered and dug out of a double-digit deficit with the help of back-to-back threes from math teacher and boys’ coach Damon Kelley and former special-education teacher Mark Butler. The students led 29-24 at the half.
Daniel would lead the students in scoring with 13. Junior Chase Fain had 12 points and two blocks on agriculture teacher Mary Jennings and assistant principal Jimmy Brehm.
“I just played with a little finesse; those old guys aren’t just use to it. I just gave them a couple juke moves,” Fain said. “It felt good (to block Brehm). He’s been talking trash all week.”
Official Kevin Wright, a special-education teacher and soccer coach, called an intentional foul on Kelley three minutes before the break that was questioned by the staff team. Students Sean Donaldson and Craig Moberley were the other referees.
“I thought we did a solid job,” Wright said after the game. “We may have missed one or two, but you know how fast it is — most people get four or five looks at it on replays, but not us; we just call it like we see it.”
The staff team hung close for the first few minutes in the second 20-minute period, but the students began to pull away late. Butler, who scored a team-high 17 for the staff, led a late charge, but the final on the scoreboard read 58-45 in favor of the students.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” Kelley said. “We had watched a lot of film on them, and we knew what their weaknesses were coming into the game; we just didn’t execute ... We felt like we gave one away tonight. We felt like if we played like we were capable of, we would have come out of here with a win today.”
Senior Heath Jackson scored nine for the students.
“I just tried to run a lot because they’re all old and out of shape,” Jackson said.
Kelley acknowledged that the fast pace was not in favor of his team, hinting that the students could have done better.
“They beat us in transition — they’re half our age, and they should be able to,” he said. “If I was them and didn’t win by 30, I’d be embarrassed, to be honest with you.”
Gatliff said the event was a success and she hoped it would become a regular occurrence as a friendly fundraiser.
“Actually, a lot of people have already said, ‘Are you going to this next year?’” she said. “So we’re hoping to do it yearly from now on and donate the money to different organizations, whatever the need is.”