By Matt Birch
Capital News Service
RICHMOND — Legislators and lobbyists battled it out Tuesday night during the final week of the General Assembly’s 2011 session. Except this time, differences were settled on the basketball court, not in the Capitol.
In a fundraising event at the Siegel Center, the Governor’s Office took on a team of lobbyists in the 2011 Capitol Square Basketball Classic. Proceeds benefited Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center.
Gov. Bob McDonnell was a starter for his team and played more than half of the 32-minute game. The former high school football player was cheered on by first lady Maureen McDonnell, a former “Redskinette” herself.
“This is an annual tradition I’ve played in on and off now for 19 years,” McDonnell said. “It raises money for a great cause – the Massey Cancer Center. We feel good getting a little exercise and supporting this cause.”
There were many smiles, jeers and laughs to be had throughout the duration of the game by both teams. Layups were missed; air balls were heaved in the direction of the basket; defensive assignments had more holes than the state budget.
But that didn’t matter. Showing up to raise money for cancer research, did.
The theme of the first three quarters was McDonnell’s team struggling to score points. The lobbyists capitalized and took a 25-9 lead into the fourth quarter, their largest of the night.
At one point with five minutes left in the game, a member of the governor’s staff even joked that they should “just foul and let the clock run out.”
However, McDonnell’s squad did not give up and began to whittle away at the lead.
After some successful jump shots coupled with better defensive play, the governor’s team tied the game at 29-29 with just under a minute remaining.
All of a sudden, the game was competitive – something it had not been since tip-off.
The lobbyists had the answer, though, and drained a three-point field goal with 38 seconds left in the game. They held on to win, 34-31.
But the real winner was the Massey Cancer Center. The charity event raised more than $7,000, according to the Capitol Square Classic’s website. The biggest sponsor was McGuireWoods Consulting, which contributed $1,000.