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Hoops for Hope Photo

IN SESSION: Previewing the House-Senate basketball game

Game to benefit UNM Cancer Center

February 3, 2014, 4:00 pm
By Matthew Reichbach
On Friday, the bitter battle between the House and Senate comes to a head with the annual charity basketball game.

The House will don the jerseys of the New Mexico State Aggies while the Senate will wear the jerseys of the University of New Mexico Lobos at Capitol High School at 7 pm.

But it's all for a good cause, as the funds from the "Hoops for Hope" game will benefit the UNM Cancer Center.

"The 'Hoops 4 Hope' event is fun for everyone involved, but it is also an important source of support for the UNM Cancer Center,” Cheryl Willman, MD, UNM Cancer Center Director & CEO, said in a statement. "The proceeds help us to deliver the cutting-edge, compassionate care that all New Mexicans deserve."

While the main focus is on helping out with cancer research -- last year's event raised more than $26,000 for cancer research and pushed the event over the $100,000 mark since 2007 -- there is always some entertaining trash talk between the chambers in the days leading up to the game.

In last year's game, the Senate was favored by the bookmakers (aka reporter Milan Simonich) by 15 points. But much like the USA Hockey team defeating the USSR in 1980, Appalachian State over Michigan in 2007 and the U.S. soccer team over England in the 1950 World Cup, the House beat the odds and won by seven points.

Now the Senate is out for revenge -- though they'll be without playmakers Howie Morales, D-Silver City, and John Sapien, D-Bernalillo, this year. Morales led all players with 12 points.

This doesn't mean they were without weapons. Bill O'Neill, D-Albuquerque, went from the House to the Senate after the 2012 elections and took his point guard skills with him. And young Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, couldn't find his range during the game but was hitting three-pointers in warmups before last year's game.

Last year, freshman Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, all 5'6" of him, won the unofficial Santa Fe Reporter MVP Award. Along with Rookie of the Year Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces, Zack Cook, R-Roswell, paced the winning House squad with eight points.

The House has another secret weapon -- legendary college coach Lou Henson will be helping the team out.

 

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