Sports Stories
Verde Valley fire districts hosed the competition, beating the area law enforcement 119-94 in the annual charity basketball game which was held at the Sedona Red Rock High School gymnasium Saturday, Aug. 11.
By Brian Bergner Jr.
Larson Newspapers

Verde Valley fire districts hosed the competition, beating the area law enforcement 119-94 in the annual charity basketball game which was held at the Sedona Red Rock High School gymnasium Saturday, Aug. 11.

The game was held in effort to raise money for the Foundation for Burns and Trauma, an organization located in Phoenix.

With the win, firefighters take home the trophy for the fourth consecutive time.

Law enforcement dominated earlier competitions, winning in 1999 and 2000.

But recently, the fire districts have come up big, winning it in 2002, 2006 and now in 2007.

The benefit was very successful, as the game raised approximately $3,207 for the foundation.

“We’re the only agency in Arizona who specifically focuses on burn victims. We focus especially on the children,” Executive Director of the Foundation for Burns and Trauma Mike Merucci said.  “This game is a great opportunity for the communities of Sedona, Cottonwood and Camp Verde to reach out and show they care.”

The organization will use the money for the Arizona Children’s Burn Camp, which is located outside Prescott.

The camp usually hosts about 100 kids from the ages of 6 to 15, who are recovering from their burn injuries.

“The camp gives the kids a chance to run and play, and be like normal kids. It raises their self-esteem and shows them that they can be like any other child,” Merucci said.

As for the game, about 120 family members and friends paid the price of admission to watch members of the local police departments and fire districts compete against one another using the great game of basketball.

Police officers and fire fighters on duty attended the event as well, giving their support for their fellow colleagues.

“This game is awesome. It is a reminder of how the years sneak up on you. I’m glad to do anything I can to help support those kids in need,” Sedona Fire District Fire Chief Matt Shobert said.

The Police Department took an early 9-3 lead off of two clutch three’s by Sean Rutledge, a senior at Mingus Union High whoes dad is a police officer.

“This game is pretty exciting, I’m glad we can do this for the organization,” Rutledge said.

The firefighters came back to tie the game however, at the 7:12 mark in the first quarter at 9-9.

The police weren’t ready, and took the lead back, 21-16, before the firefighters took a time out at the 4:18 mark.

After that time out, the momentum shifted over to the firefighters, as they extinguished all hopes for the police to lead after one quarter.

The score was 29-27 at the end of one quarter.

“That time out really helped them. This is my favorite sport, and I’m glad to help raise money for the Burns and Trauma Foundation,” first-year Cottonwood Police Officer Kevin Murie said.

In the second quarter, firefighters began to pull away,  out-scoring the police 29-18 to take a 58-45 lead going into the half.

The half time show consisted of kids being able to get onto the court and shoot some baskets, as well as getting a chance to meet their heroes.

“This game is for a good cause, and it is a great time for us to get together and help these kids out,” Cottonwood Chief of Police Doug Bartosh said.

“It also builds camaraderie within our department,” he added.

Firefighters also grabbed the microphone to give away prizes that were raffled off.

Those prizes included restaurant coupons, a gift basket, tickets to the movies and even an 8x10 autographed photo of Diamondbacks third baseman Chad Tracy.

“This is a great cause for the children and the Foundation for Burns and Trauma. I’m glad we can do whatever it takes to get these kids help,” Verde Valley firefighter Spencer Young said.

In the second half, firefighters ran away with it, out-scoring the Police Department 61-49 to win the charity game, 119-94.

No hard feelings were exchanged on the court however, as firefighters and police officers shook hands at half court and congratulated each other on a job well done.

“They may have beaten us in basketball, but we can definitely take them on the

softball diamond,” Bartosh said laughing.

These boys serve the community and their country by putting their lives on the line every day for each citizen in the Verde Valley.

Honor and respect are among the many words that can describe these brave


So whether it’s running into burning buildings, pulling someone over for speeding, or playing a basketball game to help raise funds for burn victims, they are all heroes in my book.

Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 131, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.