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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The tradition continues strong with basketball’s 12th ovarian night

Bren Belmonte


   On January 19, the Gabrielino High School basketball program held its 12th annual Ovarian Cancer Night; the girls JV, girls varsity, and boys varsity teams played against South El Monte. JV played first at 3:30 p.m., with girls varsity playing at 5 p.m. and boys at 6:30 p.m. All three teams won their games.

   “I’m pretty excited, because I know that the school will come to support. Last year, there were a lot of crowds, I’m extremely excited for the event,” senior Seth Asaoka remarked.

   Ovarian Cancer Night is one of the largest events Gabrielino holds, hosted annually by the basketball program.

   “[It’s] One of the most exciting basketball events, since so many people get involved staff members, students, and there’s just a lot of hype around them,” senior Mia Lim confirms.

   Looking back over nearly 15 years,  basketball coach John Carney adds that Ovarian Cancer Night has stayed true to its original vision, something he finds to be “very unique” and “very meaningful.” 

   The night was made to honor Debbie Williamson, a former and beloved Gabrielino staff member whose 3 daughters would also attend and graduate from Gab.

   Williamson faced repeated battles with Stage IV ovarian cancer starting in 1996 and which continued throughout her career at Gabrielino. 

   The event was started by Thomas Shima until he stepped down from coaching basketball, handing it over to Coach Carney. 

   Mr. Shima clarified that there was a previous event raising funds for Williamson where staff members shaved their heads in support. Yet, with Williamson’s daughters participating in the basketball program, it was just “a good idea.”

   “In support of her and in support of her family, we started this,” Coach Carney reflects. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to do it for as long as we have. A lot of people look forward to it, a lot of people come back specifically for this event, and to be able to do it, and to get as many people to show up…, it’s just a unique thing [we’re] proud of.”

“I’m proud that we’ve been able to do it for as long as we have. A lot of people look forward to, a lot of people come back specifically for this event, and to able to do it, and to get as many people to show up…, it’s just, a unique thing [we’re] proud of.”

— John Carney

   The event ran into some troubles during the pandemic, with the Basketball Program unable to hold it during 2021 and 2022. It made a triumphant return last year, however, and 2024 marks the second year it has returned since the pandemic.

   Leading up to the event, members of the boys varsity team sold shirts for the event for $15. The proceeds go towards the USC Norris Cancer Research Fund, the same fund that had treated Williamson.

   Last Friday, black and blue balloons dotted the bleachers in the big gym, with parents and members of the varsity teams rushing to set up as Girls JV played. More people began trickling in towards the end of their game. 

   The Gabrielino Eagles’ opponents were ironically the South El Monte Eagles. The girls JV team held a considerable edge over South El Monte for the entirety of their game. The game ended 39-10, an astounding victory for them.   

   Oralee Tran, a junior logging the book for the game, remarked, “That was some of the best I’ve seen those players do.”

   Ovarian Cancer Night picked up at 5:00, as Andres Diosdado started commentating for the event and parents had finished setting up. A snack bar and 50/50 raffle continued to raise funds and T-shirts for the event were also available.

   By the time girls varsity had emerged onto the court, passionate cheers could be heard from both sides of the bleachers. The game opened with an unfortunate fall from captain Sarah Banh, but Gabrielino quickly took the initiative and scored the first basket. They maintained their lead throughout the first quarter, keeping South El Monte from scoring a single basket. They brought home victory with a score of 58-15.

   Boys varsity also scored victory with a final record of 62-23.

   As of the 12th Ovarian Cancer Night, Debbie Williamson has now passed. But the event will continue in her honor.

   Sophomore Van Tran on the girls JV team tells us, “I understand the benefits of helping out and supporting the awareness, but overall I’m just glad basketball can be a part of something great.”

   As Coach Carney reflects, Ovarian Night has become an event where the entire Gabrielino community comes together. “It’s much more than basketball, it’s much more than fundraising,” Carney remarks. 

   “It’s a privilege,” Asaoka concludes

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About the Contributors
Isaac Chan
Isaac Chan, Staff Writer
Isaac Chan is in his first year with the school's journalism team. Outside of journalism, Isaac is an avid fan of video games, with particular fondness for Kirby, Mario, Zelda, and the Persona series—which he is always eager to discuss. Despite his penchant for gaming, Isaac is no stranger to hard work and often finds himself immersed in the challenges of overcommitting. He is particularly interested in politics and views journalism as an ideal platform to address and discuss pressing issues at Gab.
Bren Belmonte
Bren Belmonte, Staff Writer
Bren Belmonte is a Photographer and Staff Writer with three years of experience on our newspaper team. Outside of journalism, Bren enjoys cosplaying, photographing friends, reading manga, watching anime, and listening to music. Bren chose the journalism class in sophomore year after encouragement from family members in the industry. Since then, they've recognized it as a future passion and career interest.
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