(Posted Oct. 29, 2014)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Raising money for charitable causes can be a tall order, but London resident Phillip Newell took it to new heights with an exhibition game featuring former Ohio State University basketball players.
The Buckeye alumni faced off Oct. 25 against a team of London High School alumni and area residents in the London High School gym. The friendly contest raised money for the London Community Center and the London girls’ travel basketball program, for which Newell serves as a coach.
The idea came out of a conversation Newell had a while back with Velimir Radinovic, an OSU hoops alum who hosted basketball clinics at the community center the past two summers.
“I was talking to him about ways to raise money, and we came up with the charity game idea,” Newell said.
Radinovic recruited five other Buckeyes for the OSU team: Brian Brown, Terence Dials, Ken Johnson, George Reese and J.J. Sullinger. Newell recruited 15 players for the London team.
They sold admission tickets and concessions and held a half-court shot contest. They also organized a silent auction featuring a basketball signed by OSU head men’s basketball coach, Thad Matta, and a football signed by London native and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, among other items.
Members of the girls’ travel team helped to put on the event. The Buckeyes took the victory, 107-85.
“I thought it was a great time,” said Pat Closser, who played on the London alumni team and serves as president of London City Council. “I hope every year we can do something like this and build on it to make it bigger each time.”
Others who played for the home team include: Brok Bennett, Diyral Briggs, Anna Cover, Wes Davis, Josh Hill, Joey Johnson, Sean McSeveney, Chad Mousier, Brian Pollock, Bryan Robinson, Darion Rockhold, Chad Wheeler, Reggie Wilson and Renae Zabloudil
The inaugural event attracted approximately 175 spectators and raised over $2,300. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds went to the London Community Center for equipment purchases and bathroom updates.
The other 25 percent went to the girls’ travel team, made up of 30 fourth- through sixth-graders from the London area. The team’s first home game of the season is 9 a.m. Dec. 6 at London Elementary.