by Todd Habiger
LENEXA — Nuns on the court. Cheerleaders shooting free throws. Even $100 3-pointers. What in the name of LeBron James is going on here?
Welcome to the all-new, all-different Running with the Revs basketball game.
The annual game, sponsored by the Serra Club to promote vocations and benefit seminarians, underwent a major change this year — namely, priests and students are now playing on the same team.
The change was well-received and the action on the court was top-notch.
“I think with the new format, the new place (St. James Academy, Lenexa) and the new crowd, there was an increased energy,” said Father Dan Morris, archdiocesan vocations director. “The way the game ended up going — that close, tight game — I could see both teams and the crowd getting into it and feeding into that. That’s what I call a success.”
Seminarian Brian Jacobson enjoyed the new format as well.
“It was fun. I feel like I got to know the kids better. I know for me, when I was thinking about the seminary, playing basketball with the seminarians was one of the ways I related to them. It was more personal. We weren’t against them, we were with them, so I liked that,” he said.
Before the game, an anonymous donor offered $50 for each 3-point shot made. Soon after the game started, another donor offered to match that amount, resulting in $100 being donated per 3-pointer. More than 10 3-pointers were made on the night.
What the team names lacked in originality — Team Black versus Team White? Come on, man — they made up for in excitement on the court.
Team White, coached by St. James head basketball coach Stan Dohm, looked like they might run away with the game. With some sharp shooting and strong inside play, they stretched the lead into double digits well into the second half.
But Team Black, coached by St. James Academy head football coach Tom Radke, mounted a furious comeback, helped in no small part by some questionable calls from the referees.
“The refs did try to cultivate a closer contest as the game went on, but it was all in good sportsmanship and fun,” said Father Morris.
At the eight-minute mark of the game, Sister Bridget Martin, FSGM, came onto the court as a celebrity free-throw shooter and tied the game up at 45 each.
From there, the battle was on. Each time Team White would threaten to pull away, Team Black would knock down a 3-pointer or receive a favorable foul call keep the game close.
With less than 20 seconds left in the game, Team Black, down by one point, pulled down a missed free throw by Team White and pushed the ball up the court. With time running out, Jacobson found a clear path to the basket and hit the game-winning layup as time expired, giving Team Black a 58-57 win.
“We had just one shot left,” said Jacobson of his game-winning shot. “I decided to go for it all and it went in.”
For Team Black member J.D. Reece, a senior at St. James, the game was more fun than he could have imagined.
“I was just out there having fun,” he said. “It was super cool to see all the different guys — middle school, high school, priests — playing together. Playing with the priests this year on the same teams was so much fun. That was the smartest move they could have made.”
Reece said the hot crowd made for a great game environment and made a lasting impression on him.
“That was one of the best nights I’ve ever had here at St. James,” he said.