The 16th annual ACC and Pied Piper Fun Night basketball fundraiser came and went and it was again a huge success.
More than 200 people showed up to Park Arena on Wednesday to watch the men and women of the Alpena Community College and Pied Piper basketball teams strut their stuff and raise a little money.
Many of the ACC players were surprised at how well their Pied Piper teammates played.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Ryan Panknin (4) of the Pied Piper Hawks basketball team is double teamed by Nick Stephah (32) and Mike Cook at the ACC and Pied Piper Fun Night fundraiser on Wednesday at Park Arena.
"It was really a lot of fun, I've never heard of anything else like this going on anywhere else. There were a lot of talented people out on the court tonight," ACC player Whitney Frazier said.
A lot of former Pied Piper players made it to the event to cheer on their compatriots and ACC players alike.
"I like coming out to the game every year. I played a really long time but I'm retired now," former Pied Piper Special Olympics Area 3 basketball player Paul Stosik said.
The first game featured the Pied Piper Hawks team mixed up with the Lady Lumberjacks. Many of the players on the team have played in multiple Fun Night games, including 61-year- old Roger Dingle who played his last game.
"He told me this year, 'Brett, I gotta retire. I'm getting too old for this," Pied Piper teacher and Special Olympics basketball coach Brett Burke said with a laugh.
Dingle was one of the Hawks' best players as he sunk many baskets throughout the night. However, Mike Cook, another veteran of many a Fun Night was also key to his team's play.
"It's good to learn how to get motivated, learn what you're doing (on the court) and make everybody feel good by playing," Cook said.
The first game saw a lot of smiles as everybody got a chance to take a shot and everybody on the Pied Piper team got a chance to score at least once.
After some tight play and strange calls from referee Bobby Allen, the game ended with a 37-37 tie.
The Pied Piper Falcon team mixed with the ACC men's basketball team for the second game. There was some real talent on the Falcon team coming from players like Tony Seres, William Walsh and Jeremy Fountain. The speed that Seres possessed driving to the basket was impressive and Walsh was a highly accurate shot.
The arena filled with cheers every time anybody scored. Everybody once again got a chance to score. The ACC men got into the excitement by throwing some big dunks. Jake Strong, Chris Calvin and Steven Sheppard wowed their fans and teammates alike with their high flying dunks.
Even Kharri Dailey got into the act at halftime, lifted into the air by Calvis and Sheppard. The fun was contagious to every player on the team.
This game ended with another tie, a higher 49-49 score. By then, everybody had a smile on their face and lots of high fives and hugs were going around between player and coach alike.
Pied Piper Hawks coach Megan Miller was very excited about her first experience with Fun Night.
"Tonight went really well. The ACC teams were awesome, everybody got to score more than once and I really hope I get a chance to participate again," she said.
Allen, who has been helping put together the Fun Night for 16 years along with Burke, thinks the game is a learning experience for both sides.
"It really gives the guys and the girls a different perspective on sports. It's something they look forward to year after year and we even get people coming back to play. People that have played always seem to want to come back and play again. Seeing the smiles on everybody faces is reward enough for holding the game. As long as I'm here, there will be these games," he said.
All money goes directly to the Pied Piper Special Olympics basketball team.