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Marjory Stoneman Douglas Basketball Team Offers a Lesson in the Healing Nature of Sports and Teamwork

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas Basketball Team Offers a Lesson in the Healing Nature of Sports and Teamwork

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Basketball team's starting five huddle before their district championship game.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Basketball team's starting five huddle before their district championship game.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Basketball team's starting five huddle before their district championship game.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Basketball team's starting five huddle before their district championship game.

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On Feb. 14, 2018, a devastating event at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shocked the world. A Valentine’s Day shooting turned families’ worlds upside down. Seventeen families experienced the murder of their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. Many more experienced injuries.

The tip-off of the District 11-9A championship game between Marjory Stoneman Douglas (in black) and Deerfield Beach.

Much has happened as a result of this tragedy. Many schools have participated in walkouts in an effort to bring attention to gun violence and convince legislators to enact stricter gun laws. Many surviving victims drove countless hours and gave numerous speeches about their experiences and their beliefs regarding gun laws. A few victims went on national television for interviews; a few victims publicly criticized the government’s handling of the situation; a few victims described their feelings of the situation. Parents gave their feelings as well.

The heartbreaking event at Douglas High has many afraid to attend school. Anthony Borges, a freshman at Douglas explained to the New York Times last year, “I haven’t gone back to school because I haven’t seen a change.” He continues, “[My life] will never be like before. I used to get out of school and go play soccer. All I wanted was to play soccer professionally.” He added, “Now I don’t do anything.”

The tragedy has impacted the lives of many, but that hasn’t stopped the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Eagles athletic squads from competing. Just 364 days later, Feb. 13, the Eagles basketball team was competing in the District 11-9A championship game at the powerhouse Deerfield Beach Bucks. The Eagles squad previously won the night before in double overtime to move on. One fan described the game stating, “It truly was like 17 angels were watching and made this game a reality for the kids.”

There was no lack of Eagles fan support at the championship game, as one could see many maroon and silver shirts with MSD logos across the bleachers as a large number of fans came to support this Douglas squad.

The championship was no dull scene either, coming down to a quadruple overtime thriller. The Douglas team showed no quit through the entire game. Led by junior Marshaun West and senior Matt Fisher, the Eagles played well throughout the contest, leaving everything on the court.

At the end of the third quarter, West intercepted a pass from Deerfield and flushed down a powerful one hand slam to bury the Bucks. The crowd was electrified. The very next play, off a steal from teammate Josh Ruiz, West threw down a second dunk, demoralizing the whole Bucks bench. This seemed to set the crowd on fire; the fans were jumping and screaming as the Eagles took a two-point lead.

After the wild ending to the fourth quarter, filled with free throws and bone-headed turnovers, the game needed overtime to decide a winner. West started overtime giving Douglas the momentum as he took the ball coast to coast, finishing with a crafty Euro-step lay in to break the tie.

Both teams were giving everything they had and held the scoring in overtime to a minimum. A total of 33 points were scored between the two teams in the four extra periods. After a tough and-one by Bucks sophomore Degarrian Glass, an offensive foul by Eagles junior Derek Miller, and two clutch free throws from Glass, the Eagles suffered a disheartening loss. The squad finished as the runner up in the district playoffs.

The Douglas Eagles will compete against Western High in the regional playoffs next week. But, one-day short of the first anniversary of the tragic event that changed the lives of the Douglas players, we saw a team that refused to quit. We also got a small glimpse of the healing nature of sports and the sense of team as the Eagles squad came together as one entity greater than its individual parts.

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas Basketball Team Offers a Lesson in the Healing Nature of Sports and Teamwork