Reese Arrington could not follow Deer Park to the OHSAA Division-III state title game.
So the champs came to him.
The Deer Park junior high student and basketball player was admitted to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center on Friday before the state final, a family friend and youth basketball coach said.
Randy Bucker says Reese was one of his junior high players, and though the family faced uncertainty about Reese's health, the kid's biggest concern was about how he was going to cheer for Deer Park in the final game of its perfect season.
"After being in constant contact with his parents, the one thing that Reese was most upset about was not being able to go to the DP boys varsity basketball state championship game and support the team he had watched all year long," Bucker wrote in a Facebook post.
Bucker says Reese's parents decorated his hospital room with T-shirts and spirit towels hanging from the cabinets Saturday night.
"His parents made the best of the situation that they could and streamed the game from his bed," Bucker wrote. "Many times during the game, they feared the wrath of the nurses from all the excitement and yelling coming from them to keep it down as Deer Park basketball was about to win its first ever state title."
Bucker says he reached out to coach Steve Gentry about an idea to further lift Reese's spirits -- since he couldn't go to the team, bring the team to him.
"Without a second gone by on the biggest day/night in DP history and (for) themselves, the stage was set for Reese," Bucker wrote.
Bucker says he visited the family after Reese got out of surgery on Sunday, and the results were good.
The surprise guests arrived that evening.
At least 10 members of the undefeated, state champion Deer Park varsity basketball team showed up to wish Reese a quick recovery. They even brought one of the nets from the Jerome Schottenstein Center for Reese.
"Deer Park varsity boys came to visit a member of their basketball family at Children's Hospital to make his day that much better and bring part of the state win to him since they couldn't make it to the game," Bucker said. "We would like to thank the team from the bottom of our hearts for coming down and spending time with their son today. It is beyond words what they did for Reese today and his family."
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