MORRIS – A smaller-than-normal crowd gathered Saturday at Morris Community High School for the sixth annual Faculty vs. The Fuzz charity basketball game.
Despite the snowy weather, Morris Police Chief Brent Dite said they raised a little more than $3,000 that will be split evenly between Special Connections of Grundy County and the Illinois Special Olympics.
“It’s the most we’ve ever raised,” Dite said. “I can’t think of a better charity, Special Olympics on the state level and Special Connections on a local level.”
The event has had some rule changes on the court over the years but the basics are the same: The Fuzz consists of local law enforcement professionals who face off against the Faculty, consisting of Morris Community High School educators and coaches.
The Fuzz beat out the Faculty again this year, bringing the number of wins to four to the high school’s two wins.
But it isn’t about just the competition, members of both teams said. It’s about giving back to the community.
“This is a great opportunity for both the faculty of the high school, and the police officers to give to an important cause,” Morris High School Principal Kelly Hussey said. “It’s about fun, not competition.”
Some of the fun this year came in the form of a surprise player on the high school team. Announced as No. 54 Assistant Principal Jeff Johnson, Dane Zumbahlen ran out on the court to face his brother, Derek Zumbahlen, on The Fuzz team.
“My brother playing was a total surprise, I had no clue,” Derek said. “I’m the older brother and he’s the bigger brother.”
The two took to the court like only brothers could, blocking by grabbing the other’s arms while the announcer called “police brutality” in place of the typical holding foul.
The Zumbahlen brothers weren’t the only players taking the game a bit more physical than your typical basketball game. Hussey was found turning a fall into a graceful tumbling move as he hit the court.
“I’m too old for this,” he said. “Years ago, I would of done a round-off flip-flop – this year it was a somersault.”
But it was neither the Faculty or The Fuzz that received the standing ovation. That was reserved for the halftime intramural basketball game between the Special Connections basketball players.
Lead scorer Ryan Kurytak said it’s good to get to play in front of the crowd.
“Shooting is my favorite part,” he said. “I learned watching basketball on TV.”
Pat “Shooter” Halloran, superintendent of Morris High School, said watching the Special Connections team was the best part of the event.
The second half of the game started with a tie score, 26-26, and quickly became a fast paced game despite the several comments from the players about being “too old” as they returned to the bench for a breather.
The announcer, Morris High teacher Dave Auwerda, livened things up with taunts to the police like “Hope he shoots better with his weapon,” and “Police aren’t allowed to steal are they?”
The fourth quarter saw Morris boys basketball coach Joe Blumberg on the Faculty team opting for a special 5-point basket from a black dot on the court instead of the typical free throw after a foul was called.
His 5-point basket brought the team closer threatening a comeback and win, that was ultimately foiled by The Fuzz.
The final score was: The Fuzz 58, Faculty 54.