It all started with an old basketball and a gold Sharpie. Coach Thompson told each player to pick someone to dedicate the game to. It could be anyone who inspired you. It could be a teacher, a mentor, one boy even picked his parents. No one took the exercise more seriously than junior guard Spencer Wilson. He picked his late friend Josh Rominger.
The game was against their archrivals, Mount Airy High School.
With two seconds left and down by a point, Bishop McGuinness High School basketball team needed a miracle. When Mount Airy missed a chance to go up by two, Junior Spencer Wilson figured he'd give it a shot - a half-court shot. To Spencer's and everyone else's surprise, it went in.
"Right when the ball went in, I just thought it was a dream," said Wilson. "I was like, this can't be real."
"I will remember this game for the rest of my life," a fellow player said.
Spencer Wilson won his battle with cancer twice.
The win was a bright spot in a young man's life which was filled with many sad moments. Spencer spent the last five years battling cancer, not once but twice. Doctors said “You have a 7% chance to beat this," said Wilson. "That was the toughest news I've ever heard."
But he beat it, with the support of Josh Rominger, another boy also fending off cancer. "He meant a whole lot to me," said Wilson.
Sadly, Josh died last year, shortly after his 18th birthday. "With his story I could sort of relate to everything he went through so he really touched me," said Wilson.
Coach Thompson told each player to pick someone to dedicate the game to.
So when Spencer's coach told the team they would dedicate a game to someone who inspired them, Spencer didn't think twice. Each player wrote the name of their inspiration on a basketball with a gold sharpie. Spencer wrote Josh Rominger.
"We would all put our hands on the ball before we broke the huddle just as a constant reminder that we were playing that game for something bigger than ourselves," said Head Coach Josh Thompson.
So when Spencer made that last second shot, it was an honor to all the names on that ball, but especially to Josh Rominger.
|Josh and Spencer.|
"Josh's passion for life really drew me towards him," Spencer says.
Spencer and Josh were two great friends with one horrible thing in common: they both had cancer. The difference was Spencer beat his, and Josh didn’t. Josh died nine months ago.
Before the game, Spencer wrote a letter to Josh's mom, explaining what they were doing and why he would be playing for Josh. "His joy illuminated the room, and it was always apparent to me that he was special," Spencer wrote. "Just wanted to let you know the impact your son has on my life still to this day. I will never forget him. Play for Josh."
"I read it and cried," says Josh's mom, Denna Rominger. "They just had that bond. Nobody else knew how Josh felt except for Spencer."
Spencer says he still thinks about Josh every day. That's why this opportunity meant so much to him.
"During timeouts, when we touched the ball, I found where I wrote 'Josh,' and I looked for that," Spencer says. "Put my hand on it every single time." Spencer thought of his friend.
Josh’s spirit inspired Spencer to win the game.
"One of my favorite quotes is 'dedicate yourself to today because tomorrow is never promised,'" said Wilson.
Which brings us to the end of that miraculous basketball game. With two seconds left on the clock, Bishop down by a point and their archrivals at the free-throw line, Bishop needed a miracle. And that's exactly what they got.
In the record book, Spencer Wilson will get credit for that remarkable Hail Mary. But the boys here at Bishop believe Spencer's friend Josh deserves an assist. Whether you believe in miracles from beyond the grave or not, you've got to score one for a friendship that endures forever.
And, for the record, I believe.
Nancy Burban 2014
|The late Josh Rominger who inspired the winning game.|