Although Union High School played its basketball seasons during the 2020-21 school year, an early season staple was missing. But it came flying back last week.

For the fourth time, a night of exhibitions returned to the high school gymnasium. Sub-high school teams from Union R-XI School District opened the evening with the main event, the Braggin’ Rights game between teachers and staff from the high school against their counterparts from Union Middle School and the district’s elementary schools.

The game started as a way to kick off the basketball season and get people involved with the teams, said Union High boys basketball coach Chris Simmons. With more than 500 people in attendance at Friday’s event, he said it has gone well. “It’s a pretty good event for a bunch of teachers playing,” he said.

Despite Simmons’ best efforts for the high school, including an in-game dunk and several three-point baskets, the middle and elementary school teachers, called “The Others,” won the game, 71-51.

The game also featured a halftime dunk contest with four members of the 2021-22 Wildcat boys basketball team. The contest included NBA-style theatrics like freshman Jordon Allen jumping over a friend in a dunk attempt and senior Collin Gerdel dunking while wearing a Superman cape and T-shirt.

Allen won the contest by getting the most applause from the crowd. Simmons joined in on the fun by attempting some more dunks.

For the younger kids, the game presents an opportunity to play in the main gym.

Union High Assistant Principal Josh Hall, who has played in the Braggin’ Rights game each of its four years, likes that the game brings the entire district together.

“To be able to come out and have good fellowship and a good laugh, it’s one of the things that makes you appreciate the community of Union,” Hall said.

One of the teachers’ favorite parts is for the kids to see them in a less formal atmosphere.

“I look forward to this every year,” said Matt Fennessey, physical education teacher at Beaufort Elementary and the high school’s soccer coach.

Joanie Mabe, a virtual learning teacher who played for The Others, was one of two women among the 15 players in the game, the other being high school Principal Amy Kain. Although she would like to see more women play, Mabe enjoys the games.

“I’m just a competitor, and I like to have fun,” she said. “And these guys are competitors, too, so we’ll see what us old folks have.”