, Salem, MA

August 3, 2013

Straight shooters: Trio raising money for A Shot For Life

Trio raising money, taking shots for A Shot For Life

By Matt Jenkins
Staff Writer

---- — If you happened to catch any high school boys basketball games this past year involving either St. John’s Prep or Danvers, then you know what the Eagles’ Ben Judson and the Falcons’ duo of Nick McKenna and Vinny Clifford are capable of doing with a ball and a hoop.

Three of the North Shore’s top shooters, this trio will attempt something today that they’ve never done before on a basketball court.

Judson, McKenna, and Clifford were selected as 11 of the state’s top three-point shooters and will take part in the ‘A Shot For Life Challenge’ today (1 p.m.) at the University Sports Complex in Hanover.

For two straight hours, Judson, McKenna, Clifford and eight other outstanding shooters from the Bay State will fire up nothing but three-pointers, all to raise money for cancer research through the A Shot For Life foundation.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like this,” Judson, a rising junior at St. John’s Prep, said. “It will definitely be a challenge and will take a toll, but I can’t really wait.”

The participants -- including Franklin’s Sam Bohmiller, Newton North’s Tommy Mobley, Duxbury’s Jake Foote, Cardinal Spellman’s Ryan Roach, Walpole’s Scott Arsenault, Bishop Feehan’s Mike Nelson, Brookline’s Shiraz Mumtaz, and Rockland’s Tyler Gibson ­— are just as excited about the cause as they are the event.

“I was pretty interested right away. It’s all for a really good cause,” McKenna, who will continue his basketball career at Springfield College this coming season, said. “I did some homework and saw the video. I was pretty interested in how a bunch of high school basketball players can do something to raise money for a great cause.”

Mike Slonina founded A Shot For Life two years ago and shot a basketball for 24 straight hours in Catholic Memorial’s gymnasium in West Roxbury. He raised nearly $30,000 for brain cancer research and made national headlines in the process.

Now a junior at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, Slonina wanted to expand the foundation’s ability to use basketball as a fundraiser for a worthy cause.

The participants received nothing but positive feedback for the event.

“I’ve just been getting (the word out) through social network,” McKenna said. “Even if someone doesn’t donate, it’s a word-of-mouth type thing. Definitely the last couple weeks a bunch of people have donated.”

Of course, holding an event like this with so many competitive players in the same gym, it would be hard to pull it off without having some sort of winner.

Each player’s percentage will be kept, and the player with the best percentage will be honored as the state’s best shooter. That player will also have his number retired for all future A Shot For Life functions.

Predicting a winner in this event is very difficult because of its unusual format.

“I’ve done like 45 minutes straight (shooting), probably an hour and probably taken 500 shots. I don’t think I’ve ever done two hours straight or anything like that,” McKenna said.

“I think somewhere around 45 percent, maybe higher, would win it. But it’s not really about winning. It’s all about a great cause — and I’m happy to be picked to do it.”