Jeannette athletes enjoy support of alumni, community during winning runs

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Monday, February 12, 2018 | 10:27 PM


What the Jeannette sports teams have accomplished over the years doesn't need much praise.

That's because excellence on the field or court is expected from their coaches, classmates and the community.

So when the football team needed to raise money for rings after they won WPIAL and PIAA Class A football titles in December, the community rallied with support. The baseball team won its first WPIAL title last spring, and now the basketball team is getting ready to make a run in the WPIAL playoffs.

The Elliott Company, a manufacturing business in the community, donated $23,000 to help defer some of the cost of the rings.

Alumni, businesses within the community and people from the city donated money, as did NFL players Terrelle Pryor and Demetrious Cox.

Pryor paid for the team's football banquet and gave money toward the rings, and before Monday's boys basketball game Cox bought the varsity team Nike Hyperdunk shoes to replace the Nike Kyrie (Irving) shoes, which the Jayhawks said were causing ankle sprains.

“All the sprains were in the same place,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “I asked Dede if he could help, and he didn't hesitate. He asked how much I needed.”

Cox gave the program $1,300 for the shoes.

“What he did and what the community has done for us is amazing,” said Tre Cunningham, a football and basketball player.

Cox was in the locker room prior to Monday's nonsection game against Saltsburg, which Jeannette won 89-55. The entire team personally thanked him.

“Any way I can help,” Cox said. “These guys made me and the entire city proud when they won the state title. It's my way giving back to the community.”

Cox is now a member of the Carolina Panthers, after starring for Jeannette and Michigan State.

“He's like a son,” Batts said. “He's a great young man. He came through for us.”

The basketball team, sporting the new red shoes, was too much for Saltsburg. Cunningham led the way with 28 points, including six 3-pointers, and Anthony Johnson added 20, including 15 in a wild fourth quarter when he made five 3-pointers. He also had seven assists and 10 rebounds.

Marcus Barnes scored 13 points, 11 in the first half, as Jeannette opened a 35-16 lead at halftime.

“The entire community is so supportive,” Barnes said. “We really appreciate what they do for us.”

During halftime, the Elliott Company presented football coach Roy Hall and school officials with the check. Also attending the ceremony were local government officials and school board members.

The large crowd that attended the celebration was there to say thank you to the community.

“After Elliott Company announced the big donation, we still had people giving us money,” Hall said. “We should reach our goal (for the rings) with one more fundraiser.”

Barnes said he's happy the team doesn't have to fundraise anymore.

“I'm overwhelmed by all the support we've received, especially from booster member Terry Riffer and Krystal Spino, who was the driving force in the 2007 fundraiser,” Barnes said. “They don't have kids on the team, and they still helped out. There is a lot of pride within this community, and I'm thankful.”

Hall said what Pryor and Cox have done means so much to him, the team and the community.

And if the basketball team can achieve what the 2008 team did — a WPIAL and PIAA title — they'll find more support.

That's a way of life in Jeannette. That's the community's pride.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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