With the music blasting and the players pumping up the crowd, this year’s Midnight Madness was one to remember. Midnight Madness is a college tradition that is held to showcase a school’s basketball teams. On the UC Merced campus, the event is famous for being a loud and hyped up event in which the line stretches so far that some people don’t even make it through the door! The school gets pumped up to see exactly what our teams can do, immersing them in school spirit right before the start of the basketball season.
The night began with the introduction of both the men and women’s teams and their coaches. On their way out each player held this year’s infamous Midnight Madness t-shirts in their hands. They encouraged the cheering by pumping up the crowd, seeing who could scream the loudest for the coveted t-shirts. Needless to say, for about 15 straight minutes only screaming could be heard coming from the gymnasium.
After their introductions, the teams began to show us what they were all about. Split in half with some wearing white jerseys and the others wearing blue, the girls team set off in a 10 minute scrimmage. They wooed the crowd with flawless passes and amazing shots. To make things extra engaging for the crowd, a line of blue tape was drawn on the floor a foot or two from the three point line. Each time a player made a basket from behind that line a Chipotle gift card was tossed into the crowd. The girls did not disappoint making over 5 baskets behind that line of tape, increasing the crowd’s excitement with each shot.
Next up was a Three Point Contest. Starting with the girls, first year player #14 Allison Wisdom arose victorious scoring over 10 points. The boys went next and scoring about 20 points for the win was #10 Sean Rodriguez. Sean, a first year here at UC Merced, clocks in at about 6 feet tall and was sinking those shots with ease. At one point he made over 5 shots in a row, causing the crowd to go wild. The contest ended with a face off between Allison and Sean. Though Allison fought bravely, she was no match for Sean, sinking shot after shot, winning the contest with 18 points. After this contest, it is sure that Sean will be a player to watch in the coming season!
Soon it was time for the boys to show the crowd what they could do. Splitting the team into blue versus white as the girls were, each side battled it out. This 10 minute game ended in a tie, with the last shot at the buzzer for the white team that sent the crowd into yet another frenzy.
The night ended with a Dunk Contest for the boys to show off the skills they had been practicing in their pre-event work out. Judges for the contest included Dr. Charles Nies, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Rufus the Bobcat, our school mascot. The event came to a showdown between #04 Matt Lafflin and #01 Andrew Williams. Though Matt tried hard with throwing the ball off the gym wall and then dunking the ball, Andrew still came out on top. Honorable mention does go to #03 Isaiah Knott who after several tries of dunking the ball off the backboard was eventually able to push the ball through the net.
Between each of the events, the crowd was treated with performances from our Bobcat Cheerleaders, Bobcat Dance Team and Hip Hop Movement dance branch. During breaks, the crowd was rewarded with t-shirts and several boxes of Domino’s pizza. The excitement of the onlookers never died down throughout the event. The exciting plays had the crowd on their feet and the music was perfect for the atmosphere. This year’s Midnight Madness was full of laughter and fun. First year, Aspin Sanchez was the lucky crowd member selected for the half court throw and the crowd was able to see some great work from both teams. Judging by the talent shown that night, the 2016-2017 season will be one to remember!
Photo Credit: Jocelyn Foster