Victories in high school basketball are always a valued commodity, but the Villains’ boys basketball team’s win over Mt. Airy on Friday transcends the game and put the very worthy spotlight on a special player and a special person.
On Friday, Bishop McGuinness junior Spencer Wilson and the Villains simply refused to lose and Wilson made one big shot and one miraculous shot to secure the win. Wilson sank one three-pointer with three seconds left to force overtime, and then banked in a 50-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Villains an 84-82 overtime victory.
Wilson has gone through treatment twice for an aggressive and malignant tumor called Rhabdomyosarcoma, which attacks muscles and bones, and certainly didn’t envision making game-winning shots a few years ago.
“I was diagnosed in August of 2009. I’ve gone through treatments twice. The first time through kemo (therapy) and the second time it was kemo and radiation. Four years ago when I was getting kemo in the hospital I did not think I would be hitting the game-winning shot. It is amazing to see how God works,” said Wilson.
Wilson credits his own determination to get on the basketball court for part of his recovery but believes various other factors were at work.
“I have had a real strong support system with parents, family and friends, and they were very encouraging and prayed for me. My passion for basketball…that is what really got me back on the court. Basketball was my escape from kemo and radiation,” said Wilson.
Wilson wasn’t the only Villain player inspired at Friday’s game.
“It was a dedication game for us. Every player wrote a letter to a person, living or passed away, that had an impact on their life and they gave the letters to that person. Before the game on Thursday they shared their stories with the team. Some of the players dedicated the game to their parents. One dedicated it to his Uncle that had passed away with muscular dystrophy. One player dedicated it to his grandmother who was blind and never saw him play. Spencer dedicated it to Josh Rominger from Davie County that passed away last year. Josh was a teenager that battled cancer like Spencer did. He knew him through that and they had traveled the same road,” said Bishop McGuinness head boys’ basketball coach Josh Thompson.
Wilson believes all of the players were as inspired as he was on Friday.
“I knew Josh for about six months before he passed. I visited him in the hospital and he would come watch me play. We texted frequently, so we became pretty good friends. I definitely think every body played with more emotion and intensity on Friday. We were playing for something outside ourselves and did what we thought we could never do. Josh has inspired me with everything he went through. He lived every day to the fullest and valued every day of his life. I want to live my life like that,” said Wilson.
Wilson’s game tying three-pointer was a big play but was not totally unexpected. The 50-footer at the end of the game was another story.
“On the one at the end of regulation, we actually run that play in practice every day. After the time out Coach Thompson said we will run it and you will knock it down. Coach T has a lot of confidence in me and Nick (Efird) hit me with a perfect pass. On the last play it happened so fast I really did not know what would happen. When it first went in I thought this had to be a dream. It was incredible. Will (Gardner) got a big rebound and hit me with a perfect pass. I think God used this as a platform for me to share my story and share my faith,” said Wilson.
Wilson and his story have received a lot of print and television media attention since Friday’s game. In addition to attention from local networks and print media outlets, CBS News has sent a crew down from New York to Bishop McGuinness and a segment on Wilson is scheduled to air on Friday night.
“CBS actually sent a crew down from New York and they interviewed five players. They followed Spencer around school on Tuesday. They said the segment would run on Friday at the end of the evening news around 6:45 p.m.,” said Thompson.
Wilson played basketball and attended High Point Wesleyan last year, but neither Thompson nor Wilson believes it is a coincidence he is now at Bishop McGuinness.
“We are happy with the attention obviously. It is a story that can make people feel good and that is always a good thing. I have always believed the Lord has placed Spencer at Bishop for a reason. I don’t know if he cares who wins basketball games, but Spencer and the team want to give our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all the credit for everything,” said Thompson. “Having a guy like Spencer on the team inspires everybody and makes them better. Besides that, he is a real good basketball player. We are blessed to have him on the team and are looking forward to the rest of the year and his senior year.”
While Thompson believes Wilson is at Bishop McGuinness for a purpose, Wilson himself felt compelled to come to the school.
“Some things are hard to explain. I felt like God was calling me to go over to Bishop. I played AAU basketball for Coach Thompson and I though it would be best for me to go there. When God calls you to go somewhere you should follow his lead, so that is what got me to Bishop. We have a great group of guys. This is the most fun I have had playing basketball in my life. With Coach Thompson and the guys everyone has gelled real well. We have had a lot of fun this year and we hope to continue winning,” said Wilson. “I just want to continue working, getting stronger and improving my game and see where it takes me. But my dream is definitely to play in college.”