LITHIA — The first few moments of the Newsome High basketball game Wednesday night might be the quietest the local community has ever experienced.
Members of the boys’ team are asking the crowd to remain silent until they score their first 10 points, their way of shedding light on the issue of hunger in the community.
It’s called Silent Night Basketball and the boys hope to help fill the food pantry at Nativity Catholic Church in the process by asking every fan to contribute a non-perishable food item.
Senior Jeff Povelones said he and his mom, Sue Povelones, were perusing YouTube videos of basketball recently when they came across a clip from Taylor University in Indiana, where the idea for Silent Night basketball originated.
The fans remain silent until the 10th point is scored, at which time they cheer wildly.
It’s a tradition Taylor has had in place for some 20 years. Newsome Basketball Coach Barry Jacobs said he hopes it will become an annual tradition at the Lithia high school.
“We want to really make it a family atmosphere. We want to make it a tradition, the act of giving,” Jacobs said. “It’s a lesson they all need to learn.”
The gymnasium at Newsome holds 1,900 spectators, and Jacobs said he is hoping that between Newsome and opponent Durant High, they fill every seat before the 8 p.m. tip-off.
The team is already helping to spread the word. “Durant is one of our pretty big rivalries so we thought it would be good timing,” Povelones said. “Once we showed the Taylor video to the coach and he thought it was a good idea, we were on it.”
“I’m really excited about it,” said team member Hayden Harkins, also a senior. “It should bring out a lot more people for the game. It’s definitely different and it’s good for the community. We did a toy drive a couple years ago so getting people to bring canned goods to help the hungry should be great.”
Harkins said he told his television production teacher about the Silent Night Basketball game and the morning team will be advertising it during daily announcements at the school. Fliers are going up and the team is helping to spread the word.
“I know the spirit is there,” Jacobs said. “We’re hoping to get a great turnout Wednesday night.”