School News

Alumni Hoop Stars Make Senior Trip Fundraiser a Success

--by Andy Hallman, Fairfield Ledger

About 300 people packed into the MUM Field House Sunday night to watch some of the finest basketball players to come through Maharishi School duke it out in a round robin tournament.

The annual Maharishi School Alumni Basketball Bash attracts dozens of former players who are eager to put on a show in the arena where they sharpened their skills as young men and women. This year, the alumni were divided into three teams, each with a captain. The three teams played each other over three 20-minute games.

The team captained by Ben Stone won the round robin by defeating both of its opponents. In Game 1, Stone’s team defeated Owen Blake’s team, 38-31. In Game 2, Stone’s team defeated John Armstrong’s team, 40-36. In Game 3, Armstrong’s team downed Blake’s team, 41-31.

Maharishi School Athletic Director Rig Gelfand said Stone’s team consisted of many of the “older” players who played together many years ago and have formed the same alumni team for the past seven years. The organizers tried to divide the talent pool as evenly as possible, while also keeping intact duos and trios who played together years before, such as Stone and his teammate Danny Duszynski, who played on the 2000-01 team together.

The 2000-01 boys’ basketball team was perhaps the best team the school has ever fielded. The team went 20-1 in the regular season, its only loss coming against Holy Trinity. It won two games to start the playoffs before falling to the eventual state champion, Danville. That same year, the Pioneers hosted Mid-Prairie, which was starting a player headed for Brigham Young University. Gelfand said Maharishi School won the game convincingly in front of a crowd of 1,000 people.

Gelfand said the alumni basketball bash has become a can’t-miss event in the past decade or so, attracting hundreds of fans and alumni from both coasts. Sofia Iwobi traveled all the way from Burlington, Vermont, to play in the game. Iwobi was on the girls’ basketball team that went to the state tournament in 2006 after defeating Highland 78-75 in triple overtime in the substate round. Iwobi scored 49 points in that game, and received a mention in Sports Illustrated, which noted it was the Pioneers’ first trip to the state tournament.

After high school, Iwobi started all four years of her collegiate career at the University of Vermont, which won the conference title two of her four years on the team. She appeared on national television when Vermont played games against powerhouses such as UConn, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.

“She really helped put Vermont on the map,” said Gelfand.

Other players traveled from states such as New York, Colorado and Michigan. Armstrong took a break from his studies at Stanford University in California to captain his team.

The senior class at Maharishi School uses the alumni basketball bash as a fundraiser for its annual spring trip. In previous years, the senior class has gone to places such as Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica and most recently, Los Angeles. Where this year’s class is headed will depend on how much money it can raise. In addition to taking in the gate fee, the seniors raised money Sunday by selling baked goods to the fans.

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