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Rivals team to battle childhood cancer

ELIJAH ARMOLD
717-505-5406/@YDSports

In a rivalry game, teams seldom need any extra motivation.

Nothing seems sweeter than scoring bragging rights.

But, with their second-and-final regular-season meeting slated for Friday night, the Delone Catholic and York Catholic girls’ basketball teams have found a way to heat up the clash even more, while helping a charitable cause.

And now, fans can even get in on the benevolent battle, too.

The teams have paired up with Fox43 and online, performance-based fundraising platform PLEDGE IT, based in Harrisburg, in an effort to raise money for The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

“This game always means a lot in the county. It’s typically for the division, typically for county seeding, typically for district seeding, and all that’s true this year,” York Catholic head coach Kevin Bankos said. “But I think, for me, with a son that has cancer, this puts a whole other spin to the game.”

The Squirettes (14-4 overall, 10-0 in York-Adams Division III) are atop the division, while the Irish (14-4, 9-1) sit one game back.

The Four Diamonds’ mission, according to its website, is “to conquer childhood cancer by assisting children treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and their families through superior care, comprehensive support and innovative research.”

PSU angle: Through their partnership with Penn State, the orgnaziation holds its annual ‘THON’ on the school’s State College campus. Led by Penn State students, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) is a year-long fundraising and awareness campaign for childhood cancer.

The efforts culminate each year with a weekend-long dance marathon, where the year’s total amount raised is revealed. Last year, those efforts brought in more than $13 million.

Friday’s efforts will not only benefit Four Diamonds, but also each school's Mini-THONs, which are smaller, high school student-run versions of the PSU event. Bankos says some of his players have been active in those efforts as well.

Fox representatives initially reached out to the schools because the rivalry seemed a perfect fit for the fundraiser. There is also talk about PLEDGE IT working with other area games in the future.

“I’m really happy they picked the Delone Catholic-York Catholic game, because for basketball fans in the county, this game has meant a lot to a lot of different fans, not just our fans,” Bankos said.

Irish no strangers to charity: York Catholic is certainly no stranger to these types of events. The Irish have worked previously with the Four Diamonds Fund and have participated in numerous other fund-raising games.

“It’s certainly not something that’s unusual for us,” York Catholic athletic director Rick Luckman said. “One of the precepts of being the type of school we are, we are very concerned about the aspect of life and giving a helping hand. Our kids are heavily involved in service to the community.”

The cancer-battling fundraising efforts will continue on Monday for the Irish with their game against Dallastown, according to Luckman, although that event is not affiliated with PLEDGE IT.

Not only will Friday’s match-up serve as a way to help a worthy cause, but it will also give the teams a chance to finally get back on the court after last weekend's blizzard.

“We finally were able to get into a gym and get the girls back running again,” Bankos said on Tuesday night. “But we’re all in the same boat, it’s not like one team is sitting out there waiting while the other is practicing.”

Where they stand: Fans can donate a flat rate or on a per-point-scored basis by visiting www.pledgeit.org/fox43. The current amounts raised for each team can be seen on the site to add further fuel to the funding fire.

As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, York Catholic had $40.38 pledged per point for an estimated total of $1,600 by the site’s prediction. Delone Catholic had $27.75 for a $1,100 potential total.

For more on the Four Diamonds Fund, THON and Mini-THONS, visit  www.fourdiamonds.org.

Coach Kevin Bankos led his York Catholic girls' team to York-Adams Division III and District 3 Class 3-A titles this season.

Reach Elijah Armold at earmold@yorkdispatch.com.