ST. CHARLES – Dom Adduci's mother, Jill, put forth a tremendous effort off the court.
Dom did the easy part – relatively speaking at least – in playing an excellent game on the court.
It all came together for a special night for Adduci, a junior guard for the St. Charles East boys basketball team, and the Saints, who walloped Batavia, 57-28, Saturday night on East's Hoops for Hope night to fight cancer.
A variety of fundraisers were tied to the game, including T-shirt and raffle sales, to generate revenue for the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. Jill Adduci was the ringleader of a well-supported push to coordinate the event.
Players on both teams dedicated the game to somebody in their lives who was affected by cancer. In Adduci's case, that somebody is his mother.
"I think four years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was her idea to come up with this whole thing, and the plan for the night to donate for cancer and everything," Adduci said. "I felt like I was playing for her and everything we did was for her, so it was really special for me, definitely."
The teams each wore matching, light blue Hoops for Hope T-shirts in warmups and big swaths of the crowd was also decked out in the shirts. East coach Pat Woods and his assistants wore special shoes for the event.
"We always talk about as a teammate, being selfless, and giving up yourself for the good of the team, and tonight we tried to make it a cause bigger than that, something that goes outside of basketball," Woods said. " … It was a great night tonight. I thought we had great support from the fans, our parents did a great job coordinating and all that.
"I just thought overall it was a great night, and of course it helps that we won, too. That makes it even a little bit better."
That part of the evening was hardly in question after the Saints jumped to a 16-7 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Saints forced 13 turnovers in the first half and had the Bulldogs' offense under duress virtually the entire game.
Quick, active hands and purposeful traps by East (15-8, 8-3 UEC River) bothered the Bulldogs (10-13, 4-7 UEC River), who, like the Saints, were coming off a conference road win the night before.
"Taking care of the ball, first and foremost, has to happen," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. "But St. Charles East did a really good job of making sure that didn't happen."
Adduci fed off the evening's emotions in constructive fashion, scoring half of his 20 points in the opening quarter. Sophomore guard Cole Gentry added nine points and senior forward Ben Skoog pulled down eight rebounds to lead a strong Saints showing on the glass.
Junior guard Micah Coffey scored 10 points to pace the Bulldogs.
Despite his quality performance, Adduci considered his mother the real star of the night.
"She was constantly talking about it, calling different people, getting everyone involved, the cheerleaders, Jersey Mike's, all the sponsors," Adduci said. "I give all the credit to her. It was amazing how hard she worked for it, and it definitely came all together."