CARPENTERSVILLE – That Greg McNally’s words are deliberate and require more effort these days doesn’t matter.
The smile from under his newly grown mustache said all that was necessary Saturday night at the Dundee-Crown gymnasium.
The D-C vs. Jacobs Alumni Games were played before a gym that looked to be about two-thirds full, with the women’s game preceding the men’s game. Dave Schultz, a 2004 D-C graduate, organized the event to help McNally and his wife, Lily, with medical expenses.
McNally, a 2009 D-C graduate, had an arteriovenous malformation, known as an AVM, that was determined to have caused a clot in his brain and a subsequent stroke in February. He is recovering, and his walking and speech continue to improve.
And he was thrilled to be at D-C on Saturday to see some of his former teammates from 2009, the Chargers’ Class 4A fourth-place team, along with other past D-C luminaries back on the court.
“This is cool. Basketball is so much fun,” McNally said. “I played here in 2009, then I was a (history) teacher here, but I coached (girls basketball) at Jacobs. The guys who are playing here are the best players – Mike McKibben, Graper Griffin, Jeff Beck. They’re so good. It’s awesome to watch them.”
Schultz knew what needed to be done after McNally suffered his medical problem. He is adept at organizing fundraising events, so he put together the alumni game, which he hopes becomes an annual event, with D-C and Jacobs alternating as host schools. His idea is to donate to a different cause each year.
“I got to spend some time with Greg on two different occasions before the event, and when he talks about it, he lights up,” Schultz said. “It was nice that (D-C coach Lance) Huber said some things to honor Greg. Greg’s a great guy.”
Lily McNally was shocked when she first heard about the game.
“We’re very thankful for everybody who came out,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing for so many people in the community to come together. Dave’s been incredible.”
Jacobs won the women’s game, 40-23. There was a 3-point contest between games, then the men’s game was played.
All in all, it was entertaining to the end. Kevin Slimko (Jacobs, 1993) made 2 of 3 free throws with 2.2 seconds to go for a 52-50 lead. D-C called timeout to set up a final play, and Beck, the leader of the 2009 team, had his 3-pointer roll in and out at the buzzer.
“I thought it was in,” Beck said. “The old rims, that would have went in. It was all you could ask for, a last-second shot against Jacobs. That’s what it’s about. It was awesome. Greg’s such a good guy. It was awesome playing with him (in high school). It’s unfortunate what happened, but it’s pretty cool that we can help him out. Dave did an awesome job putting this on. He has a great knack for these things.”
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter