Playing for a cause

Monadnock’s Tim Santaw, right, congratulates Conant’s Peyton Springfield after Springfield reached 1,000 career points during last year’s Hoops for Hope games at the Pratt Auditorium in Jaffrey. It was just one of a number of heartfelt moments at last year’s event.

SWANZEY CENTER — About two months ago Conant High and Monadnock Regional High hooked up in a fierce basketball double-header in Jaffrey, with the Oriole boys squeezing out a double-overtime win and the Conant girls pulling away in the second half.

On Saturday, the two schools will meet again in Swanzey Center, but this time with a common — and annual — goal that extends well beyond basketball. Hoops for Hope is a fundraiser area schools have engaged in for more than a decade; admission is by donation and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Hoops for Hope. T-shirts will be for sale and concessions will be available, with portions of the money donated for the cause.

The triple-header starts at 12:30 p.m. with Conant’s unified team taking on Fall Mountain Unified. At 2 p.m., the Conant and Monadnock girls will tip off, followed by the boys at 4 p.m.

Kate Skrocki, a former Monadnock athlete, will be the guest speaker. In 2012, as an 8th-grader, she was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks the bones and the soft tissue in and around them. Skrocki underwent surgery and eventually returned to Monadnock as a three-sport athlete.

Today will also feature a segment where the fans will stand up for someone they know who is in the battle or lost the battle with cancer.

Last year, Ken Ervin, who lost his wife Liz to cancer, was the Hoops for Hope guest speaker in a tear-filled day when the same two teams played in Jaffrey. Ervin coached Monadnock to its only boys’ state title and was a standout player at Franklin Pierce University. He gave an emotional speech at halftime of the boys game, with the three oldest of his five children in attendance.

The local Hoops for Hope initiative was founded in part by Michele Chadbourne, who passed in 2017, when she was battling cancer. Her three daughters — Maddie, Katie and Grace — played basketball for Conant. Her husband, David, coaches the Franklin Pierce men’s basketball team, and Ervin served as his assistant.

As for today’s games, the Huskies will have their work cut out for them in the opening girls’ contest. The Orioles are undefeated at 13-0, and have rarely been challenged this season. Their 52-38 win over Monadnock in December was actually the second-closest margin of victory they’ve had this year; the closest was a 35-28 win at 12-3 Hopkinton. The Orioles are coming off romps of 73-12 (Mascoma Valley), 70-25 (St. Thomas Aquinas) and 67-28 (Hillsboro-Deering).

At 6-6, Monadnock has had an up-and-down season that has included a three-game winning streak and a couple of tough losses, including by six points to Hopkinton and three points to Newport. The Huskies have been idle for a week, as their last outing was a 46-31 win at Winnisquam.

The boys game is a rematch of Conant’s 78-74 double-overtime win to open the season, a game Monadnock just as easily could have won. The Orioles are 6-4 and on a two-game winning streak; Monadnock is 6-5 and also on a two-game winning streak.