South Snohomish Fire’s Nate Crawford (left) shields the ball from Everett Fire’s Marcus Reinhard during a charity basketball game between the two fire departments on Jan. 19 at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the campus of Everett Community College. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

South Snohomish Fire’s Nate Crawford (left) shields the ball from Everett Fire’s Marcus Reinhard during a charity basketball game between the two fire departments on Jan. 19 at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the campus of Everett Community College. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Area firefighters play hoops for a cause

The Everett and South County fire departments battled on the hardwood to benefit burn victims.

EVERETT — The competition was intense Saturday afternoon at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the campus of Everett Community College.

Two teams of muscle-bound individuals went full tilt on the basketball court, complete with fancy spin moves on offense and charges taken on defense.

But this was no ordinary game and these were no ordinary basketball players. This was a showdown between firefighters from the Everett Fire Department and South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue, and while the competition was real, it was all for a good cause.

Saturday’s charity game, which took place in between the men’s and women’s basketball games between Everett Community College and Edmonds Community College, benefited the Washington State Council of Firefighters Burn Foundation, meaning the firefighters were able to engage in some athletic competition while also supporting a cause close to their hearts.

“It was really fun,” said Jesse McCormick, a firefighter paramedic at South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue Station 10 who was tasked with organizing the south county team. “Any kind of friendly competition between us and whoever is always a good thing, especially if you raise money for a good cause like the Burn Foundation. We’re all for it, any day of the week.”

Saturday’s game was the first of its kind between the Everett Fire Department and South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue. Everett ended up winning the game 25-20.

“Tiring,” was how Brian Hughes, a driver at Everett Fire Department Station 1 who put together the Everett team, described the game.

“We might have had more turnovers than points,” Hughes joked. “But it was good, it was fun, we had a good time playing and we’re happy to support (the Burn Foundation).”

The idea for holding a charity game originated with Everett CC athletic director Garet Studer, who first approached the Everett Fire Department with the idea.

“When we were looking at the basketball schedule before the season started, we wanted to do some type of local heroes night similar to the (Everett) Silvertips and (Everett) AquaSox,” Studer explained. “That transformed into, ‘Could we involve them somehow more than simply inviting the local heroes groups?’”

The original idea was to have the Everett Fire Department play against the Everett Police Department. Nearly a decade ago the Everett Fire Department and Everett Police Department joined forces to face the Seattle Seahawks in a charity basketball game, Hughes said, but there hadn’t been a similar game since. When the Everett Police Department was unable to commit to the game, Studer invited South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue, which agreed to take part. With the Everett Fire Department being in Everett CC’s area and South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue being in Edmonds CC’s territory, it made perfect sense to schedule the game for when Everett CC and Edmonds CC squared off.

Studer asked the fire departments for charity suggestions, and they came up with the Burn Foundation, which assists burn survivors whether they’re firefighters or members of the public. The fee was $5 to enter the game and all proceeds went toward the Burn Foundation.

The game consisted of two 20-minute halves of running clock. Both teams came in uniform, with South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue donning bright red jerseys that had the players’ names on the backs, while Everett wore grey jerseys emblazoned with a basketball hoop logo. A contingent of uniformed firefighters were in the stands to lend their support. The game was even officiated by three referees who donated their time to the game.

Once the game began it was clear the teams were taking the game serious, as both teams ran an offense and both benches were fully engaged.

“That’s firefighters, man,” McCormick said. “We tend to take it serious no matter what. You put us in a gingerbread house-building contest we’ll take that seriously, too, and probably get in a fight.”

There were no fisticuffs Saturday, but there was a tie game at 20-20 with 3 minutes remaining. A 3-pointer from Everett’s Kyle Lont broke the tie, and Marcus Reinhard’s driving layup put the finishing touch on Everett’s victory. Lont finished with 10 points to lead Everett, Nate Crawford had six to lead South Snohomish County.

Meanwhile, a total of $340 was raised for the Burn Foundation. Studer said it was a little less than the goal of $500, but he was nevertheless enthusiastic about the event.

And the firefighters? They’re ready to do it again in the future.

“It was really fun,” Hughes said. “Hopefully we continue the rivalry and play again.”

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