PCHS and Dexter come together to raise nearly $4,700 for Aliza Jean Family Cancer Foundation

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GUILFORD — The game may have featured neighboring rivals, both with high winning percentages on the season, competing intensely on the court, but the Piscataquis Community High School and Dexter Regional High School girls basketball teams played for a greater purpose during the Jan. 26 contest. The two teams and their fans worked together for the fifth annual “Fill the Gym For Childhood Cancer Event” to benefit the Harmony-based Aliza Jean Family Cancer Foundation (

The previous four games raised close to $6,000 for the memorial organization, and the 2018 contest ended up bringing in a record $4,690 for the foundation (more than twice last year’s total of $2,000). The Aliza Jean Family Cancer Foundation has a a mission to provide financial support for local families who have a child diagnosed with cancer, and a goal of spreading awareness about pediatric cancer and to advocate for advancements in research and treatment. Since 2013 40 families have been assisted by the organization, with approximately $80,000 dispersed.

During wam-ups all the players wore event T-shirts over their uniforms in in honor of the late Aliza Jean Herrick Stutzman who lost her battle with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer on Jan. 23, 2013 at age 13.

The game was held during “Blow the Whistle on Cancer Week” as officials across the state traded in their standard black whistles for pink models to promote fundraising for cancer research and helping individuals dealing with cancer in their fight. Eastern Maine basketball officials donated a part of their game fee for the cause.

On the court Dexter used a ball-control offense to lower the number of possessions for each squad. The strategy worked as the Tigers won 25-13 (a sharp contrast to the Dec. 16 meeting in Dexter where the home team won by a score of 44-32).

The 25 points may have been the fewest scored in 13 games for Dexter, but the team held PCHS to its lowest scoring output of 2017-18 and Dexter matched its season-best mark in points allowed.

Freshman Avery Herrick led Dexter with a game-high 10 points, the only player to reach double figures, with the 10 coming on five shots from the floor across the four quarters. A jumper and shot down low gave Herrick four points in the opening quarter to help the Tigers build an 8-2 advantage. The team would never lead by less than a half dozen the rest of the way.

Senior Erin Speed scored a team-high eight points for the Pirates, four coming in the second quarter as she put back an offensive rebound and converted a pair of free throws.

The victory gave Dexter its ninth consecutive win to improve to 12-1 just over two thirds of the way through the regular season. PCHS fell to 10-4 and lost for the only the second time in the team’s last nine games.

Dexter 25,
DEXT 8 6 6 5 | 25
PCHS 2 4 2 5 | 13
Dexter: Av. Herrick 10,
Grant 7, Batron 4,
Beem 2, Deering 2.
PCHS: Speed 8,
Hunt 3, Lemieux 2
Records: Dexter 12-1,
PCHS 10-4

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
FILL THE GYM FOR ALIZA JEAN FAMILY CANCER FOUNDATION — The fifth annual “Fill the Gym For Childhood Cancer Event” to benefit the Aliza Jean Family Cancer Foundation featured PCHS hosting Dexter on Jan. 26, and a single game record total of $4,690 was raised for the foundation. On the court Dexter won 25-13. Pictured is PCHS senior Erin Speed shooting over Tiger freshman Cheyenne Beem with Pirate senior Bailey Lemieux positioned on the other block. For a story and more photos, please see page 7.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
ON THE HUNT FOR A LOOSE BALL — PCHS junior Alivia Hunt grabs the basketball away from Dexter senior Rebecca Batron on Friday evening during the fifth annual “Fill the Gym For Childhood Cancer Event” in Guilford to benefit the Aliza Jean Family Cancer Foundation. Spectators helped raise $4,690 for the foundation.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
POINTS WERE DIFFICULT TO COME BY — Senior Erin Speed of PCHS drives the lane past Dexter senior Kaitlyn Webber (15) and freshman Avery Herrick (20) with Pirate sophomore Olivia Riitano also in on the play. The Tigers won 25-13 as Avery Herrick scored a team-high 10 points and Speed led her team with eight points.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
DRIVE VS. NO. 5 — PCHS senior Bailey Lemieux dribbles toward the low post around Dexter freshman Peyton Grant.

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