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CURRENT ARTICLE
02/21/2017 - From The Press Box: Columbus Closes Old Gym With Inspiration
From The Press Box

There have certainly been great moments in Nebraska high school sports over the years.  I wasn't expecting something so close to "home" for me, when a came back from my son's basketball tournament game in Malcolm on Friday night.

Although, I must admit, I was warned ahead of time.

I called my mother to tell her about Jered's game, only to find out she and the couple thousand that crammed into the Columbus High School gym that night witnessed something special that will be talked about for years to come.

She proceeded to tell me that Class A third-ranked Kearney beat Columbus 67-56, which isn't the exact outcome Discoverer fans wanted.  But what she told me next absolutely overshadowed the loss of the final game played in the 58-year-old gym.

Mom told me that the team's student manager, senior Kyle Anderson, suited up to play.  What I didn't know about Kyle was that he was battling a form of bone cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.

She said it will be on TV tonight.  What I told her was "it's likely all over the Internet."  Which was true.

Friday marked the fifth anniversary of Kyle undergoing the first of what has been 11 surgeries.  He underwent a procedure to remove a tumor from his knee.  He goes in for chemo and continues the battle.

Columbus coach Jimmy Motz told Kyle to come by practice Thursday, where he received an official home basketball jersey.  He would be wearing No. 44.  No one on the team knew what was going on until Friday when Kyle walked in wearing his jersey.

Motz contacted Kearney coach Drake Beranek in advance about what was going on.  Beranek, who lost his father (former Ravenna basketball coach Paul Beranek) to cancer in December 2015, went along with the plan.

When Kearney finally distanced themselves from Columbus with less than three minutes left, Columbus students and fans started chanting Kyle's name.  After Kanon Koster extended the Bearcat lead to 13 with 25 seconds left, Coach Motz turned to his bench and pointed at Kyle to check in.

Heading to the basket from the right side of the floor, Kyle received a pass, took one dribble and scored a layup.  As the entire gym erupted into a big cheer, Kyle forever became apart of Discoverer basketball history as the last player to score a basket in a varsity game at the old gym.

After getting home from Malcolm, I sat down in the living room opened up my Twitter app on my phone and saw the posting from @BearcatPics.  I watched it probably 10 times that night. 

Were there tears? 

You bet. 

Tears of joy and sadness for this young man, who's enduring something that kids his age shouldn't have to deal with, period.

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This truly ranks up with Lauren Hill, the 19-year-old Mt. St. Joseph college basketball player who fought brain cancer and scored a basket in a game during the 2014-15 season.  She passed away in April 2015.

My friends, any sort of problems in my life is absolutely nothing compared to what Kyle has dealt with and what Lauren went through.  Seeing what Kyle and Lauren got to do should be inspirational.

To Jimmy and Drake, thank you for what you did for this young man.  He will truly treasure this for the rest of his life. 

To all coaches at the high school level in Nebraska, I hope you all share this piece of video with your players and assistant coaches.  Great team builder and something to learn from life.

Yes, life is very precious.  Make it count.

Click here to see Kyle's shining moment.

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