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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Come on and slam and welcome to the jam!

By Andrew McClain

The Western pep band could be heard from either end of campus as they blared away at the night sky to welcome guests to the Viking Madness basketball exhibition at Sam Carver Gymnasium on Friday, Oct. 26.

The Friday night event was billed as an opportunity for fans to see both the women’s and men’s basketball teams before the start of the season. The night also doubled as a pre-Halloween event that included a costume contest and games set up by local businesses for attendees to win prizes and food.

An hour after the doors opened, the lights dimmed in the gym and the basketball teams were introduced to raucous cheers.

After that, it was all you can eat White-jersey versus Blue-jersey action as the teams were split up to play against themselves.

Festivities kicked off with the women’s scrimmage. The game timer was shortened to six minutes and substitutions were called frequently to get all the players on to the court for the exhibition. The result was a full-speed flurry of activity for the entire duration of the match. The contest was close throughout, but it was the White squad that snagged the victory 12-11 behind a solid three-point shooting performance from junior guard Dani Iwami.

The men’s scrimmage followed closely after. While there wasn’t a lot of defense played –  much to the vocal dismay of the coaches on the sidelines – the athleticism on display was impressive. Alley-oops, big dunks and three-point shooting prowess were all included during the frantic six minutes of playtime that saw the White squad take a 26-20 victory over the Blue squad.

The three-point shooting contest came next, but with a twist. Instead of shooting as individuals, the contest was once again broken up into Blue versus White with five shooters on each squad.

While the three-point contest remained close, with the score tied going to the last shooters, it was the Blue squad that pulled out the win 37-33.

That left only one question unanswered for the night: who would be crowned Viking Madness Dunk Contest Champion?

Cameron Retherford flies backward through the air with a basketball in one hand, preparing to dunk.
Cameron Retherford throws down a 360-dunk in the slam dunk contest during Viking Madness on Friday, October 26. // Photo by Harrison Amelang

The men’s team competed as individuals in this event, with five players taking part in the contest. Each player was given the chance to perform two dunks before the crowd voted on who would advance to the final round.

Through those first two rounds, the clear fan favorite was junior forward Trevor Jasinsky, who said he’s been able to throw down crowd-pleasing dunks since his high school days. That experience appears to have benefited him, as his explosive athleticism and mid-air acrobatics earned him the loudest cheers.

However, freshman guard and forward Jalen Green, the other dunker to make the finals, refused to be intimidated and threw down a vicious two-hand reverse dunk that ended up earning him the crown as Jasinsky struggled to complete his last and most complicated attempt.

Outside of basketball, the night played host to multiple performances by Western groups to keep the crowd entertained between matches. The Western cheer squad and hip-hop dance team both performed full routines that drew big responses from the crowd.

University President Sabah Randhawa sat courtside during the events and could often be heard cheering the teams on. He described the evening as fantastic.

“It was good to see both our teams out there. They look really good.” Randhawa said. “It’s going to be a great season.”

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