MONMOUTH — Matchups between rivals Monmouth Academy and Winthrop High School always generate buzz, but Thursday’s basketball games at the academy are about much more than bragging rights.

The games will be played to remember those who have been touched by cancer and to raise money to help find a cure. Dubbed Hoops for Hope, the fundraiser is the brainchild of Matt Richardson, father of player Hunter Richardson.

“I had someone very close to me pass away at 26,” Richardson said. “The idea came from her.”

Richardson found willing partners among high school officials in Winthrop and Monmouth.

“Both communities have been impacted by the loss of beloved members and continue to support alumni, parents and families who are fighting the illness,” Richardson said.

The fundraiser will be part of multiple phases of the games, beginning with warmups, during which every player from both schools will wear a T-shirt that has the logo of their school and a cancer ribbon. The T-shirts, which are lavender, the color representing all cancers, will have each player’s uniform number and the name of someone who has battled cancer or is currently doing so.

“That’s someone that they’re playing for,” Richardson said.

Richardson said a number of fundraisers have been planned, including Hoops for Hope T-shirts and a 50/50 raffle organized by the cheerleaders. Richardson said the schools will present a check to an American Cancer Society representative during halftime of the boys varsity game, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The event kicks off at 4:30 p.m., with the boys junior varsity game. The girls varsity team takes the floor around 5:30 p.m.

All games will be played at the Monmouth Academy gymnasium.

Hoops for Hopes will return Jan. 28 when the teams play the second match up on their schedules at Winthrop High School. Richardson said he hopes the event will become a yearly tradition.

Richardson said the match ups are some of the biggest games on the schedule for both schools. The boys teams for both schools are expected to make a run into the Class C playoffs.

“They’re two of the better teams in the conference,” Richardson said. “It’s not just a big game for cancer, it’s a big game for both schools.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642ccrosby@centralmaine.com