Fans crowded into the stands and stood along walls, even overflowing into the hallways, to see the Steelers play a different game against local policemen and celebrities at Connellsville Area High School gymnasium Thursday night.
Steelers receiver Nate Washington’s speed transferred well to the basketball court, and he used his shooting skills to propel his team to a 78-49 win over the Connellsville Police Department in a benefit for the Falcon Foundation.
Washington was joined by current Steelers players James Harrison, Carey Davis, Najeh Davenport and Arnold Harrison, along with former Steelers wide receiver Louis Lipps.
Davenport appeared one day after being cleared of domestic violence charges in Cleveland. Simple assault and criminal mischief charges against Harrison were recently dropped.
The team went up against several members of the police department, including Police Chief Ed McSheffrey. Local musicians Scott Blasey, lead singer of the Clarks, and Chris Higbee, of the Chris Higbee Project, were also on the police roster. Connellsville varsity boys basketball coach Nick Bosnic was behind the bench.
Lipps said the game was an opportunity to have fun while helping a worthy cause.
“We always have fun coming to these events,” he said. “The fans look forward to it, and the guys look forward to it. We like to put on a show, have a good time, and help them raise some money.”
Blasey kicked off the night by singing the national anthem, and though the main event was on the basketball court, fans received plenty of other treats. Local sponsors donated numerous prizes to be raffled off, and the Steelers players were available for a halftime autograph session.
Event organizer Vernon Ohler, a member of the Falcon Foundation, said all of the money raised goes toward school necessities.
“We help buy stuff for the classrooms, be it for the kids, or be it for the teachers,” he said.
Ohler said the Falcon Foundation supplies some of the “little extras” that aren’t always included in the school district’s budget.
Ohler said he chose to host the Steelers because he knew the event would draw a crowd, and the turnout didn’t disappoint. Though the figures weren’t in on just how much money the foundation raised, Ohler said the game was a success.
“We did all right,” he said. “It all goes back into the classroom, one way or another.”