CHAMBERSBURG - Now in its ninth year, the Dunks for Drew boys and girls basketball showcase has a special place in the hearts of many from around the area.
Last season, Randy Taylor - who along with his wife Marcie founded the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation following the death of their son - took a spot back on the bench at Dunks for Drew as an assistant coach for the Chambersburg Trojans.
"That was very special to be able to share that experience with Randy," Trojan head coach Shawn Shreffler said. "And this year will be just as special. Randy has his hands in a lot of the planning, and participating in this event with him is great."
All proceeds from the showcase will benefit the foundation, which provides free grief support through Drew's Hope and holds several events throughout the year. It was founded after Drew passed away in a traffic accident in 2006.
"We love to support this cause," said Greencastle-Antrim girls coach Mike Rhine, whose family went through Drew's Hope after his wife had a stillborn son. "Randy and I have been friends for a long time, and when I started to coach, I said if there was ever a chance to for us to participate, we would. We know it's for a good cause, and that's the reason we're here."
Randy Taylor said, "We've had a number of families go through our program that have been affiliated with Dunks for Drew, either as coaches, players or cheerleaders of the school that participates. To know that we're able to see some kids and parents and how they've benefited from Drew's whole program, that's probably the most special thing."
While it is certainly a special day, there's also four games of basketball to be played. The day kicks off with Shippensburg vs. Gettysburg girls at 3, followed by the same boys pairing at 4:30. Greencastle girls will then take on Chambersburg at 6, followed by the same schools in the boys game at 7:30.
"We're focused right now," Ship girls coach Andrew Markel said. "It's either win our next six games or our season's done. That's the focal point of everything."
The Lady Hounds (6-11) face the also struggling Warriors (6-12), who are led by Devetche Johnson with 11.1 points per game. Mariah Martin is Ship's leading scorer with a 9.8 ppg. In the second girls game, Chambersburg (1-17) will certainly have its hands full with the Blue Devils (15-1), who have won 11 straight.
Both of the boys games are much-anticipated rematches of earlier this season.
The Greyhounds (11-6) will be looking to avenge a loss to Gettysburg (12-5) in the first game of the season when Marquise Camel (14.2 ppg) nailed a four-point play with two seconds left in regulation. But Ship has quite a few offensive weapons, such as Wade Mills (15.1 ppg), Shuntan Hickman (10.7) and Carter Van Scyoc (9.9), that have improved since the season opener.
Greencastle (11-5) and Chambersburg (8-9) met in the championship of the Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament, and the Trojans captured the 51-41 victory. But a lot has changed since then, and both coaches are expecting a dogfight.
"We didn't really know how good we were because it was the second game of the year," Blue Devil boys coach Gary Martin said. "We were still testing things out. But right now, I feel if we're up, we can add to our lead, and if we're trailing, we're patient enough to get back in it."
Shreffler said, "I have a lot of respect for Greencastle, and they're having an outstanding year. They have some very good players, and they are tough match. We played really well that first game and did a nice job defensively, but it's hard because they have so many different weapons and they're very skilled at what they do."
The Devils are led offensively by Casey Hoover (17.8 ppg) and Bryan Gembe (10.9), and, while Chambersburg has been hit with a slew of injures this season, it has recently seen the return of Carlin Christian and John Shupp.
"'I'm very excited because I think the three (boys) teams coming into our gym are all really good teams," Shreffler said. "They all have their eyes set on postseason basketball, so it's going to be exciting to get a lot of talent into our gym."
Editor's note: Free-lancer Tom Sixeas contributed to this article.
Dunks for Drew Showcase
When: Saturday, at CASHS Field House
Girls schedule: Shippensburg vs. Gettysburg, 3 p.m. ... Greencastle-Antrim vs. Chambersburg, 6 p.m.
Boys schedule: Shippensburg vs. Gettysburg, 4:30 p.m. ... Greencastle-Antrim vs. Chambersburg, 7:30 p.m.
Media: Follow @LindseySquints, @TomSixeas, @NoahShatzer and @liziarbogast on Twitter for live updates throughout the day.
Tickets: $5. No passes will be accepted.