Coach Quinn Shares His Thoughts On Keystone Game And Much, Much More (02/01/18)

Coach Jess Quinn wrote this very special article. Please enjoy while you shed a tear or two.

Monday, January 29th was a very special night on Clarion Area Basketball court.  As a team, booster club, and school, we hosted an incredibly important event… The Hoops for Hope game which benefits the Clarion Cancer Center.  It was an amazing event.  In the past we have participated with the Keystone School District, their booster club and of course their basketball team in this wonderful show of support for our local Cancer Center.  This year we hosted the event.


It is difficult to put into words what such an incredible event means to so many people.  Everybody has someone in their lives that has been touched by cancer.  Some have overcome the disease, others weren’t as fortunate, and many are battling it today.


The games were just what the doctor ordered!  The Junior Varsity game was close until the final minute with the Bobcats coming out on top 48-42.


Between the girls’ varsity and boys’ varsity games was the ribbon ceremony.  The Clarion Singers performed beautifully as the members of each team entered the gym and formed a human ribbon.


The Boy’s Varsity game was everything it should be when two of the top KSAC teams go head to head.  Looking at each game the Bobcats and Panthers have played, going back to a summer matchup at CUP, every game game down to the last second and every game was decided by 1 point!  In the first matchup of the season on December 9th Josh Craig took a shot with seconds left in the game to give the bobcats a one point lead, only to see it erased for a second straight night.


Monday night the Bobcats were able to hang on to that lead and edge the Panthers by one 43-42.  It was a slugfest!  Both defenses were outstanding during the contest! We were led by our top Seniors Cam Craig, Austin Hummell, and Spencer Miller.  Spencer had sprained his ankle early in the contest but returned to play in the second half.  Cam and Austin, among others, played very well for us.


The Bobcats took the lead late in the fourth quarter when Cam drove the lane and scored with a tough layup.  The boys dropped back into defense and were poised to defend that one point with everything they had.  And they DID!  On a loose ball coming straight toward our bench, three players dove on the floor!  Austin Hummell and Nick Frederick for the Cats, and Corey Rapp for the Panthers.  Unfortunately, Nick was not able to continue in the contest.  He was injured on the play.


As a coach you always talk about young men giving up everything for that loose ball, “treat it like gold” I always say.  Well Nick gave everything he had! As he rolled over and called for me, I could not help but almost lose my composure.  Nick had dislocated his knee cap and was in terrible pain.  The game was delayed for more than 20 minutes.


As his coach, as a dad, I knew right away, I was not staying for the final 6.9 seconds of the game.  At that point the win or the loss meant nothing.  After Rich Heron, our trainer was able to stabilize Nick’s leg, I walked over to our boys and told them I would not be seeing the final moments of the game.  Somehow they already knew.  I told them how much I care for each and every one of them, as if they are my own sons.  Their response… “It’s okay coach.  We got this!”  It brings tears to my eyes knowing that these boys, these young men come from such great backgrounds and have such empathy for a teammate and are composed and mature enough to understand the big picture like this.  They amaze me!  I understand that if people only see me as a coach, on the boys, with a very loud voice, they believe, or it may appear as if I do not care for them.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  I can’t explain how each of these boys have touched my life.  I can only say that I truly care for each of these boys as if they were my own sons.  As parents we hate to see our kids in pain. I would’ve taken all of Nick’s pain that night if I could have.  I am blessed to have the opportunity to coach such wonderful young men.


What is also amazing is the class and character of the Keystone organization.  Starting with Head Coach Greg Heath.  I walked over to shake their hands, as I was not going to be there at the end, every player and coach expressed their heartfelt concern for Nick.  Most notably Corey Rapp.  He was visibly upset.  He said, “Coach, I didn’t mean for this to happen.”  I told him it was okay.  I know the kind of young man he is and it was just one of those things.  I also told him, “It’s not your fault.  You can focus.  You have a game to win.”  I could tell that was the furthest thing from his mind.


The very next morning I had received a text from Coach Heath wanting to know any update on Nick and wishing him a speedy recovery.  I passed that on to the Fredericks.  I have also come to find out that their team sent Nick a Goody Bag of candy and a card.  What character, sportsmanship and class from the Head Coach down.  When two good basketball teams take the court and battle with everything they have, down to the last second only to have something like this happen… and win or lose, The Keystone Panthers are sincerely concerned with how a rival, an opponent is after an injury like that speaks volumes!


I have a feeling that these two teams may see each other in the playoffs.  It might just come down to another thriller of an ending.  Good Luck to the Keystone Panthers the rest of the season.  I will never forget your level of concern and compassion on that night.

(Thanks to Coach Quinn for this fine heartfelt article. To Coach Quinn and the Bobcats and Coach Heath and the Panthers… What a CLASS ACT!!!! YOU MAKE US VERY PROUD OF ALL OF YOU!!!! SPEEDY RECOVERY, NICK!!!!)

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