Berchtold plays for fallen hero

Berchtold+plays+for+fallen+hero

The Hammermill Center was filled with 1,631 fans Saturday afternoon for the Gannon women’s basketball team’s eighth annual Pink Zone game, but there was one special observer who had the best view of all – from above.

Junior guard Amanda Berchtold said she played Saturday’s game in honor of her aunt, Roberta Thompson, who passed away on Nov. 11 after a long battle with breast cancer.

Berchtold and the Knights were able to use the platform to raise awareness and funds for women battling breast cancer while showcasing their ability to come together as a team in Gannon’s 59-49 wins over crosstown-rival Mercyhurst.

It was emotional playing in the game and for her family watching the first Pink Zone game since Thompson’s passing, Berchtold said.

She explained that Pink Zone games had been a part of her basketball career dating back to her time at Mercyhurst Prep High School; where the event had become an annual outlet for awareness and support.

Berchtold said her aunt had attended all of her home games in high school and college, and added that she was one of her biggest supporters. “[Thompson] had been there for every game and it was sad not having her there for this one,” Berchtold said.

Berchtold was able to make her aunt proud by commanding the offense, setting the tone on defense and distributing the ball to her teammates.

The Knights’ lead had been cut to two points, 34-32, with 16 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the second half. Berchtold grabbed a defensive rebound, marched Gannon down the court and found an open Brittany Batts, who drained a 3-pointer.

On Gannon’s next possession, Berchtold linked up with Batts again for another basket from behind the arc. Batts’ back-to-back 3-pointers sparked a 13-2 run for the Knights.

The offensive surge, coupled with dominant team defense, helped Gannon maintain a double-digit lead for the remainder of the contest.

Batts credited Berchtold for finding her on both 3-point opportunities that opened the game up for Gannon. Batts said both of the game-changing baskets were important to the win, but added that the meaning behind the event stretched far beyond the victory. “I was just glad that we were able to go out there today and get a ‘W’ for all those people out there fighting breast cancer,” she said.

Berchtold echoed Batts’ sentiment and said she was proud of the women’s basketball team and its efforts to give back to women in the Erie community continuing their battle against breast cancer.

“We knew that this game was bigger than us,” Berchtold said. “It was all about those battling cancer.”

Berchtold said her team hoped that 2015 would be the year the Knights eclipsed the $100,000 mark for funds raised by the Pink Zone games. The Knights had raised $97,524 in support of breast cancer research since 2007, and will know the total amount raised following the next committee meeting.

Berchtold finished the game with five assists, four rebounds and two points. She said she felt great that the Knights were able to play so well as a team and win such an important game for her No. 1 fan.

“I know [Thompson] is watching down on me when I play,” she said.

CONNOR SONDEL

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