Washington and St. Joe host Coaches vs. Cancer game
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - When asked about his team's commitment to its community, Washington Panthers senior Xavier O'Neal said, "It's more than just basketball. It's more of a South Bend thing."
While the hardwood is of course reserved for competition, especially between cross-town opponents, South Bend Washington and St. Joseph high schools joined together to use their matchup to help the city.
"[We're] doing something positive around our community to help spread awareness for cancer awareness," said Panthers senior Malachi O'Neal. "That's a big thing. Everybody in our community has been affected by cancer."
"I recently two years ago lost a cousin that was dear to me to cancer," said Xavier, "so this game is real good for the community."
Friday's game was part of the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative. The coaching staffs wore tennis shoes, t-shirts and other items were sold to raise money, and a donation drive was held at halftime.
Because this cause was so close to everyone involved, the Panthers and Indians made sure to get the word out.
"This thing we've got going on has been going viral," said Trey Petty, another Washington senior. "It's been going all over Twitter and just to see the fans come out like that, it means a lot to us."
The game, which St. Joe won 73-71, served as yet another sign of the positive change for Washington squad, which has improved its play on the court along with the mood in the locker room.
"We're trying to change the culture here," said sophomore Jaylen Petty. "[We're trying to] get everybody on board, get more wins this season, just change the culture."
That positive culture is now extending before and after the buzzer sounds.
"We realize we all got to come together as one for that," said Xavier O'Neal. "This game especially gives the community a reason to come out and support us."
See highlights of the game below!