Basketball event gets students excited for upcoming season

Ben Miller
Layout Editor

Music blared from speakers as hundreds of students packed Finnegan Fieldhouse for Midnight Madness, a night of basketball competitions and prize money Saturday.

The event, intended to build excitement for the upcoming basketball season, provided students with free pizza and popcorn and a chance to enter their names to win prizes. Students were lined up outside before the doors opened at 10 p.m., vying for a chance to claim a free T-shirt.

The Rev. Rufino Corona, TOR, opened the night in prayer.

“I want to thank you (God) for Baron Athletics, and I thank you for this group of men and women who are trying to glorify you … with everything they do,” Corona said in his prayer.

After praying, Corona introduced the two hosts for the night, Dan Dentino, vice president of student life, and Franco Carapellotti, the founder of the Steubenville Chapter of Big Baller Brand.

The lights were cut abruptly as members of Student Government ran out and threw glow sticks into the audience.

The women’s basketball team was brought onto the court first, each member being announced by the MC with her height, grade, position, home town, jersey number and name. Each woman was met with the roaring applause of the audience as they ran through a curtain of smoke and green LED lights, highlighted by a spotlight.

The men’s team followed suit announcing their new members first, and then the returning players. As the seniors entered the court, they were met with a hail of glow sticks from the audience.

Joe Wallace, the head men’s basketball coach, took the microphone to lay out the plan for the evening.

Students who entered their names into a drawing were given a chance to win prizes for completing certain basketball competition.

The first competition was called Hot Shot. Four students were chosen and teamed up with two basketball players each. The teams were challenged to secure 10 points before their opponents could, using hoops set up on opposite ends of the court. The four teams participated in a bracket resulting in senior Mike Hardy’s win. All participants were given $25 gift cards to Cupertino’s Café in the J.C. Williams Center.

The next competition was a brief 3-point shootout with two audience members.

Before a dunk contest between three of the men’s basketball members, a video was played featuring LaVar Ball, founder of Big Baller Brand. The dunk contest was judged by Corona and Bob Lesnefsky and resulted in a win for freshman Yann Yonkeu.

The next prize up for grabs was a $300 gift card to Bennigan’s. To win the gift card, students had to make a layup, a free throw and a 3-pointer in succession.

After 10 failed attempts, the judges decided to raffle off two $150 coupons instead. Senior Alejandro Gutierrez and sophomore Nicholas Smith won the raffle.

The final prize for the night was a $1,000 scholarship to be applied next semester. To win the scholarship, a student had to make a basket from half-court.

Senior Jonathon Hober was the first to take up the challenge. On his second shot, he missed the hoop but sunk the ball in the lower basket set just to the left of the intended basket.

While the judges deliberated, the crowd went wild. Ultimately, the judges decided to award Hober the scholarship.

Junior Anthony Inoue was one of the participants in the Hot Shot competition.

Inoue said dunk contest winner Yonkeu was an “incredible player. I’m looking forward to seeing some more style during the season.”

Freshman Maura Flynn attended and was excited to be present.

“It was honestly such a gift to be able to come tonight,” Flynn said. “It felt like we were back in the old times in the sense of the community and the excitement about all of it.”

Midnight Madness was sponsored by the Athletics Department, Events and Student Government.

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