Priests vs seminarians basketball game returns; priest pull ahead in series – Orange County Register

There may not have been any future NBA ballers on the hardwood for the annual priests vs. seminarians basketball game played Friday at Mater Dei High School.

But the passion displayed both on the court and in packed bleachers of the Meruelo Athletic Center rivaled that of the high-stakes games contested on the Monarchs’ hallowed court.

After a blessing from the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, the bishop of the Diocese of Orange, and the national anthem, the game of roundball between the diocese’s priests and seminarians was back underway after a three-year hiatus. Vann also tossed the ball for the tipoff.

The amped up crowd, which included fellow priests, sisters and parishioners, stayed raucous for the entire 40-minute contest, cheering both teams after every made shot.

The series was tied at 2-2 going into the game, which puts bragging rights on the table for the next year.

The priests maintained a double-digit lead for most of the game, walking coming away with a 55-39 victory.

Father Brandon Dang, a member of the priests’ team and one of the game’s organizers, said the keys to the victory were “teamwork and talent,” not to mention that several players on the priests’ side were once on the seminarians’ squad.

“The win … it’s whatever,” said Dang, who works in the diocese’s Vocations Office. “It is really the comradery and all of us here together.”

He said this was the biggest game hosted yet, “people have been asking for it and we had to deliver it.”

While the game is about fun, the money from ticket sales goes toward supporting vocations in the diocese.

The first time the priest and seminarians squared off 2015 in the Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac School gymnasium in Tustin. There was no game in 2019, due to administrative changes and then the coronavirus forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 games.

“It is beautiful to come out here,” said Fr. Wayne Adajar of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Fountain Valley.

Adajar, who played high school and college basketball in the Philippines, drilled two three-pointers against the seminarians.

“Hopefully, it will inspire young people to enter the religious life,” he said of the night’s fun. “It’s a vocation campaign. That’s what we are trying to do. It’s to let them know that the priests have a fun side.”

Seminarian Cole Buzon, who was playing in the matchup for the third time, said the priests shot well and drew more fouls.

Buzon also acknowledged that the seminarians could have played better defense and made more shots.

“It’s always great to have the priests and seminarians get together because the parishioners get to see a kind of dynamic between the priests and seminarians that they don’t see on a regular basis,” Buzon said. “To hear the crowd out here cheering for the priests and seminarians is super solid.”

During halftime, Sister Mary Andre and Sister Miriam, both teachers at JSerra Catholic High School, participated in a shooting contest.

A former high school basketball player, Sister Mary Andre drained four three-pointers within 30 seconds.

She said she and her fellow sisters sometimes play pick-up games.

“It’s pretty fun,” she added, “to see all of the people come out to support vocations.”

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