Salamanca-Randolph boys

Salamanca’s Andy Herrick (30) puts up a layup against Randolph during a boys basketball game Tuesday night in Randolph.

The Salamanca boys basketball team’s Beat Cystic Fibrosis Night is back after a year away due to complications of the pandemic.

The annual fundraiser traditionally takes place during the Warriors’ home game against Randolph, usually one of the most well-attended games of the season due to a friendly rivalry with the Cardinals. But last year, the Randolph game fell on the season opener during a period when health guidelines did not allow fan attendance.

This year, Salamanca hopes it will get a chance to welcome a strong crowd to once again raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation when Randolph visits for a non-league game Saturday night tipoff (4:30 p.m. junior varsity, 6 p.m. varsity). It's set to be a great matchup between two top-10 Western New York small schools. Salamanca won the teams' first meeting, 68-64, on Dec. 28 in Randolph.

“Now that we have fans back, we felt like it was important for us to get back to it and make sure that we continue the tradition,” coach Adam Bennett said.

The tradition started in 2017-18, inspired by Andy Herrick, a Salamanca student who came up through the modified and JV programs until joining the varsity team last season. Herrick has persevered through the disease to become a significant contributor to the varsity team.

“My favorite thing about Andy is that he will not allow the disease to ever define him. He leads as normal a life as he can,” Bennett said. “He goes through treatments every day and all the pills that he has to take and things of that nature, but I've known him for a very long time, I've never once heard him complain. He's just so thankful for all of the support that he receives and all the help that he gets.”

Bennett plans to keep the fundraiser going until there’s a cure for CF, even if it’s long after Herrick graduates out of the program.

“It just happens right now that Andy's on our team and I'm proud of him him for that too, he's one of the best players in the region, he's averaging double-figures in a tough league and he makes big time plays for us in games. But more than that, I know that he's on the team this year, but as long as I'm here, until we find a cure for cystic fibrosis we'll do this in support of him. He's such an unbelievable human being. Anybody who's lucky enough to know him is certainly very proud of him.”

T-shirt sales already generated some money in advance of the game, while Salamanca plans to offer several ways to donate at the game. Those who cannot attend may email Bennett at ABennett@salamancany.org or contact any of the school’s athletics social media pages to ask how to donate.

“There's so many people that help out with this, Levi Sponeybarger, who works in the district, set up an online store through the Jock Shop where people before the game could go in and purchase shirts and that raised over $640,” Bennett said. “During the game we take donations, all of the money that we receive from donations, concessions and the 50-50 goes right to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.”

The visitors have also embraced being part of Beat CF Night each year.

“Randolph has been tremendous partners, they've supported financially over the years,” Bennett said. “I know that coach (Kevin) Hind has organized a drive through their basketball Venmo where their fans can donate, they'll bring a check to the game. It's just great to see both communities come together to obviously support Andy but more importantly work toward a cure.”

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