Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009 | 11:22 p.m.
As someone living with cancer, Silverado girls basketball coach Kelli Matthews knows the importance of events like Think Pink night, a fundraiser for breast cancer research and awareness held in conjunction with Tuesday night's game against visiting Green Valley High.
Although Green Valley won the important Southeast Division contest 64-49, Matthews said the spirit of the night was not lost.
"Obviously we wanted to win the game but some things are more important than winning," Matthews said. "(Green Valley) Coach Lorenzo Jarvis was gracious enough to get involved and have his girls participate."
Matthews was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2005 and her quest to fight the disease has long provided a source of inspiration. Matthews said she is doing well in her recovery.
Proceeds from the game, including gate receipts, raffle sales, concessions, shirt sales and donations will go to the Kay Yow WCBA Cancer Fund. A final tally was not immediately available.
Yow, the long time coach of North Carolina State's women's basketball team, passed away Saturday after a 22-year fight against breast cancer, to add even more emotion to the game for Matthews.
"Coach Yow was a hero of mine so that news was just devastating," Matthews said. "We would have liked to have pulled out a win in her honor but it didn't work out. The important thing is the support we got from the school — both the students and the administration."
Silverado Athletic Director Mark Parantala said he was proud of, but not surprised by, the support the students have shown toward Think Pink night.
"There's no doubt that coach Matthews draws inspiration from our students, but I think the students draw even more from her," Parantala said. "They see how strong she has been in her fight with cancer. She is a tremendous example for the team and the students."
Silverado senior center Mikayla Thielges said the game had a playoff-type atmosphere as the 'Hawks tried to win the game for their coach.
"It's so important to us and it's like we're playing on pure emotion," Thielges said. "It's just a huge deal to us. It feels good to see the whole school get behind the team for coach Matthews, we just wish we could have gotten the win."
The game, an important early match-up between two undefeated league teams, was dominated by Green Valley from the first quarter on. Green Valley (7-1) led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
"It was a true team effort and that's why I love coaching this team," Jarvis said. "It's never one individual pulling us through, it's always the whole team. Silverado is a heck of a team and they fought hard but we kept our focus, didn't look at the scoreboard and kept playing our best."
Junior guard Jazmine Jarvis led the Gators with a team-high 16 points while senior center Vajae Robinson pulled down a game-high 20 rebounds.
"I didn't realize I had that many rebounds," Robinson said. "Coach just told me before the game that Silverado has a lot of good rebounders so I had to do well. I just tried to do my part and help us win."
Thielges had 15 points of her game-high 17 points in the second half and finished with 18 rebounds. Junior point guard Shea Collins added 14 points.
"We had too many turnovers, we weren't rebounding (Green Valley's) defense just shut us down," Matthews said. "Tonight, anything we did just wasn't working. Next time we have to do a better job of protecting the ball and hitting the boards."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or email@example.com.