The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

November 15, 2013

City, school score big with basketball game

JOHNSTOWN — The swish of a basketball net, the squeak of sneakers on hardwood and the national anthem – what wonderful sounds could be heard at Cambria County War Memorial Arena this week.

St. Francis University played host to the Naval Academy in a special Veterans Day men’s basketball game at the arena. It was a wonderful night for the city, the local university, fans and veterans.

“It meant a lot to the county and to the veterans and to the whole community,” Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky told sports editor Shawn Curtis. “It was a win-win for St. Francis University, the county and the region. It’s a destination game. You have Division I basketball in Loretto and this is a way to showcase the War Memorial and play a game on that wooden floor ... It was a lot of people working together and getting things done. It shows the strength in our community that people do work together.”

It was the first time that St. Francis had played one of its home games outside of its Loretto campus in 23 years. But playing at the War Memorial was a homecoming of sorts for the school, if not for the players. St. Francis has a storied history at the historic building. In fact, the school’s biggest win – a shocking, 82-72 victory over second-ranked Duquesne University in 1955 – came at the War Memorial. The arena even served as the school’s full-time home from 1971-73.

“We have a history as having been here,” St. Francis Director of Athletics Bob Krimmel said when the game was officially announced in September. “Anytime that you can connect with your history, that’s a positive thing.”

There was another big positive in St. Francis hosting Navy at the War Memorial: It was a perfect way to honor our veterans. The St. Francis marching band was able to participate in the annual Veterans Day parade. Having the Naval Academy in town for the game was a natural fit for the holiday. It allowed us not only to honor all of those who have served our country in the past, but those who will be serving it in the years to come. To have it at the War Memorial, the building the county has set aside to honor veterans, made it even more special.

We appreciate the efforts of all of those involved at the university, the arena, the county, the veterans and the fans – all 2,838 of them – who attended the game.

We’d love to see St. Francis continue to play at least one game per season at the War Memorial, although we realize that not all will come together as perfectly as this one. The university seems to be committed to the idea of playing

here more often and it will almost certainly help the Red Flash expand their fan base.

That sounds like a slam dunk to us.

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