As part of Western’s annual Back2Bellingham celebration, a thrilling basketball game was on display for fans yearning for action on Sam Carver Gymnasium’s hardwood.
The Bellingham Slam, a minor league team operating in the area, took on a team made up of Western basketball alumni in a friendly contest on Sunday, May 17.
It was the first game of its kind at Back2Bellingham.
The regulation-style basketball game in Carver Gym pitted various alumni who previously played on the Western men’s basketball team against the Bellingham Slam. Upwards of 200 people showed up to cheer on the Western side and take part in the experience.
The Slam stole a 108-100 victory in the game’s closing minute.
Carver housed more than just casual sports fans. Many of the current players on the Western men’s and women’s basketball teams were on hand to support some of their old teammates.
Redshirt freshman Trey Drechsel was one of the Vikings’ players at the game. He said the game overall was enjoyable, but really started to heat up in the fourth quarter.
“The atmosphere was pretty family friendly and chill for most of the game, but it got intense toward the end, which made for a solid outing,” Drechsel said.
While the majority of the game proved to be entertaining and laid back viewing for the fans, the final quarter got the crowd on their feet. The two teams battled back and forth, displaying great offensive attacks as well as defensive stops.
In the end, the Slam’s offensive firepower was too overpowering for Western and they lost in the final minutes of the game.
On the Western alumni side were Anye Turner, Mark Hopkins, Dane Thorpe, Austin Bragg, Cam Severson and Preston Vermeulen. Seniors Turner and Hopkins just recently finished their last seasons of eligibility for Western.
Vermeulen and Severson led Western in scoring with 22 and 17 points while Jacob Stevenson led the Slam with 23 points.
Current Western students showed up for the game to enjoy exciting basketball. Cade Ray, an environmental policy major, voiced his opinion on the connection between Western and the Slam.
“The alumni game showed me the special relationship that the Bellingham basketball community has from HoopStar to the Slam. It was an awesome experience to see the unique relationship all the alumni athletes shared,” Ray said. “Sucks that the Slam won though. Go Vikings.”
Whether it was a family member rooting on their alumni squad or current players seeing teammates from the past, Carver Gym had some basketball action for everyone.
“It was just a lot of fun to watch, fun to see the guys from the past going at it and that they’ve still got some skill,” Drechsel said.
This was the first game for the Bellingham Slam in 2015. The four-time International Basketball League champions suspended operations for the 2015 season due to the league changing its structure. The Slam would have been required to play almost all of their games in Seattle had they not suspended operations