Alumni retain ‘bragging rights’ in annual basketball game

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HOT SPRINGS alumni Ruben Loberg drives to the basket and Marco Diegel (left) and Tyler Carr (right) attempt to stop him in Friday night’s Alumni Game at Hot Springs Gymnasium. (Jason Blasco/Clark Fork Valley Press)

HOT SPRINGS — The Hot Springs boys basketball alumni game was an action-packed game that included reunions, dramas and good-bye’s Friday night at the Hot Springs Gymnasium.

When the final buzzer sounded, the alumni team defeated the current Hot Springs squad 67-53. The game and purpose might have been overshadowed by the departure of foreign exchange student Marco Degal.

Now former Hot Springs basketball player and football player Degal played his final basketball game before his return to his home in Munich,Germany. Degal was also a key contributor to the 2016 Hot Springs Class-C, 6-man state championship football team.

Degal departed for Germany the day after the game.

“It was pretty fun playing one last game and I really do love basketball,” Degal said. “I liked playing against the older guys. It was competitive and fun to play one last game in Hot Springs.” Degal said he “enjoyed” his time in Hot Springs.

“My time in Hot Springs has been dang good,” Degal said. “I really enjoyed it here. I didn’t know if I would enjoy it much when I first came but now I’ll miss it a lot. I want to thank my friends and family for a great time and opportunity.”

Current Savage Heat coach Ricky DePoe expressed his excitement about the team he has coming back next season.

“I am pretty excited about this group,” DePoe said. “It’s good what we have coming back next year. It is great to see how much the players have changed and grown. Some of these kids will be team leaders and it’s great to see what kind of person they are going to be next season.”

The current team found themselves against a stacked alumni team, according to DePoe.

“When you have Lenny Page and Tanner Hoff. both two great athletes to come out of Hot Springs. they have quite a bit of talent on that team,” DePoe said.

Both the girls and boys programs were playing for the “Just Do Something” scholarship tied into the older program known as Graduation Matters.

“These games are fun and we really try to get the community going with it since we started it four years ago,” Lenny Page, a 1994 graduate of Hot Springs, said.

Page said there is also a strong element of competition in these alumni games.

“We don’t want to lose to those little punk high schoolers,” Page said in a joking manner. “We liked that everyone played hard and hope that no lines were crossed and no one got hurt.”

Page said he enjoys reuniting with other former Savage Heat alumni.

“There aren’t too many of us left over from 94,” Page said. “There are still a fair amount my age that are around but there isn’t a huge amount of alumni that is involved with this type of thing. I got to see a few people I haven’t seen in a while.”

DePoe said he really enjoyed seeing the amount of alumni that turned out for the event.

“It was really neat to see everyone come out and hold a competitive game,’ DePoe said. “It was just kind of neat to see everyone come together for a good cause.”

Page, whose team won and never let go of the lead once they obtained it, wanted to add one more thing.

“I can still dunk at the age of 41,” Page said. “Even if it was just in warm ups.”

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