The town of Paradise, Calif., experienced almost unthinkable tragedy after the Camp Fire ravaged the community.
Weeks after the community was torn apart, it is starting to come together again, with the help of high school sports.
Monday night, the Paradise High boys and girls varsity basketball teams took the court against Chico (Calif.) High School at Chico State University.
“It’s not going to be a rivalry game. At least for me. I just want to go and have fun,” Paradise High senior basketball player Fiona Roberts told Sacramento CBS affiliate KOVR.
Roberts’ family lost its home in the Camp Fire. Amid such devastation, she told KOVR that the game – and the season as a whole – is a welcome distraction.
“Everybody in Paradise went through like a life or death situation and everyone is in the same boat,” Roberts said. “To be sad about it and just like think about it all the time, it’s not going to do anything.”
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Chico High School and the city’s citizens have been at the forefront in helping Paradise recover. Per KOVR, the school has held fundraisers and opened their campus to host Paradise girls and boys basketball practice.
As Paradise girls basketball coach Sheila Craft told KOVR, the generosity from Chico has been uplifting.
“Even though everything around them is falling apart, I want them to know that basketball is the one thing that has stayed,” Craft told KOVR. “It didn’t go away in the fire.”
As for the games themselves, the Paradise girls lost, 56-22, while the boys won their opener, 80-62. Proceeds from the two games went largely to Paradise High School and to recovery efforts, KOVR reported.