Area hoops stars come together in support of Erica Rickman

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

It was a game for the ages, but sadly only several dozen spectators were on hand to witness. It was a game that any basketball fan would have loved, and the two teams combined for over 200 points. It was a great game, and it was for a good cause. But, having been there in person all I can say is; man what a game it was!

I speak of Saturday night's Piggott-Rector All-Star Alumni charity basketball game at the old PHS gym. The contest was the final event of a full-day of fundraisers for former Lady Mohawk Erica Rickman, which generated several hundred dollars toward her medical bills.

Rickman, a former volleyball, basketball and softball standout at Piggott High has been battling a malignant brain tumor the past several months. She's currently at home recovering from treatments she received at St. Jude's in Memphis.

Event organizer, and Piggott team member, Billy Joe Seal took the lead in setting-up the fundraiser and played for the Mohawk alumni in the big contest. Joining him on the Piggott squad were Chad Beck, Cole Baldwin, Aaron Cluck, Chet Vaughn, Logan Ballard and Trey Sutfin. The Rector squad was made up of Matt Mills, Matt Rabjohn, Michael Turner, Al Rabjohn, Lance Mabrey, Brantley Terry and Jackie Graham. The group included at least three All-State basketball players, including Graham who was named to the honor last week for his performance this past season for the Cougars.

As the contest got underway it became evident that pride and bragging rights were on the line, it also became evident that the Rector team was just a bit younger than the Piggott alums. By the end of the first quarter the Cougars enjoyed a 27-25 lead over the home team.

As the game wore on, and some of the players wore down, the Rector squad pushed out to a lead they would never relinquish. Paced by 37 points from Mills they went on to post a 115-86 victory. Cluck led the Piggott team in scoring with 33 on the night.

Afterward there was talk of a re-match, to be played at Rector High School sometime in the near future. Clay County Democrat sportswriter Ryan Rogers, who served as referee with Piggott's Barry Branscum, is working to schedule that event.

Rickman, along with her parents Barry and Melissa were on hand for the game and afterward Erica posed for a photo with the members of both teams. She also said that her most recent tests showed improvement, and that her recovery is progressing.

"We really appreciate everything that everyone has done for Erica, and our family," Melissa Rickman said. "Everyone has been so good to remember Erica in their prayers, and to help us out in so many ways. There is just no way we could ever adequately thank them all."

Earlier in the day a handful of young athletes took part in a skills competition at the gym, and a "pig" tournament. The turnout was small, but the athletes who did show-up made up for their lack of numbers with their enthusiasm. Some of the older athletes also took part in the games, and earned a trophy for their effort.

Special thanks are in order to Seal for his work in organizing the event, and in getting the gym ready, to Sue and Alyssa Blair for operating the concession stand, to Barry and Ryan for refereeing, to everyone who attended and donated to the cause and especially to the players.

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