It was a suitable ending to an ugly affair when House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s shot at the buzzer stuck between the rim and backboard.
“Most people would try to just make it; I wanted it to stop,” the California Republican said.
Despite turnovers and poor execution, members of Congress held off a late surge by the lobbyists' team to capture their second straight Hoops for Hope Championship on Monday, 25-19. McCarthy, one of four participants honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the half, said everyone was a little rusty.
“This was one of the lowest scoring games [I can remember],” McCarthy said. “I think it shows we’re just coming back from break.”
The annual Hoops for Hope All-Star Classic has raised more than $1.5 million over its 15 years for at-risk kids, and the organization will begin work next month on a new outdoor court for families in Wellington Park. However, co-founder Paul A. Miller of Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies said the lobbyists’ game plan did not pan out.
“It’s becoming a habit of us losing, but it’s for kids,” Miller said. “Out of shape, not enough practice and it looks like too many Twinkies from our team.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., scored the first points nearly three minutes in on a tough reverse layup. Members relied on Flake’s inside-outside game throughout, along with Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric L. Richmond’s guard play. Richmond quarterbacked the members’ offensive attack, and his quickness and dribble penetration, including gliding coast to coast to draw the foul just before the end of the first half, maintained the members’ five-point advantage.
A slow start from the lobbyists also benefited the members, who searched for a post presence all night. McCarthy split time with Flake and New York Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley, who missed some point-blank shots but altered lobbyists' drives to the hole. He also picked up the members’ first foul.
“I’m in the books,” Crowley shouted to the crowd, after hacking Brad Knox of Aflac, another Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, who completed the three-point play.
Miller, the lobbyists' “secret weapon,” did not check in until the 3:45 mark in the second half, but the lobbyists' nerves and inability to capitalize on multiple scoring opportunities down the stretch began to take hold. The men from K Street began shouting “clock stops” to the scorer’s table after every dead ball, and this even extended to the foul line.
“Wait until it hits the rim this time [before entering the lane],” one official told players at the free-throw line with less than two minutes remaining.
While the members played well enough to win, congressional staffers were not able to hold off the lobbyists in the first game of the night, snapping the staffers’ seven-game win streak 60-44.
Correction: 7:35 p.m.
An earlier version of the post misstated the time period during which the Hoops for Hope All-Star Classic has raised $1.5 million.