Ask any basketball player. It’s tough to come off the bench at the end of a game, and drill your first shot. That’s what makes Mason Doherty’s performance so impressive. The high school senior from St. Peter, Minn., who has Down syndrome, not only sunk his first 3-pointer, but also a second one just one minute later against the Hawley Nuggets.
St. Peter was up big with two minutes left, and head coach Sean Keating decided Doherty was his go-to bench player to keep the game on track. Coach couldn’t have picked a better player. After Doherty’s back-to-back 3-pointers, even the Nuggets were celebrating and high-fiving him.
“It was awesome with my kids because we didn’t have to talk about it in any way, shape or form,” Nuggets’ head coach Nathan Stoa told the Grand Forks Herald about needing to give his team a heads up about a player with Down syndrome possibly entering the game. “This was a great opportunity for our kids to not only be a part of a memory, but to help create and be excited in a moment for a young man who has probably had it a little bit more difficult than the average teenager.”
— Kevin Kochmann (@KevinKochmann) December 28, 2019
It wasn’t only a meaningful moment for Doherty. His parents relished in the victory, too.
“Since people with disabilities get marginalized a lot in our society, him doing that and then everybody cheering it on and putting themselves second and kind of putting Mason first, it just brings complete joy,” his father said. “There’s been many times where it makes my wife and I cry on the sidelines, because your heart just explodes with joy.”
Doherty has been playing basketball for nine years, and he’s not the team manager. He’s a varsity player, ready to jump off the bench when his number is called, make a positive impact and get an entire crowd on its feet while believing in the good in humanity.