CARY — The box score shows only that Nitin Reddy was one of eight seniors to score in Green Hope's win over Cary on Tuesday night. But his 3-pointer in the final minute was the most memorable shot of the game. It drew the loudest reaction and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
The fanfare was for a senior playing his first varsity game on senior night - a four-year team manager with special educational needs and the support of the entire gymnasium.
Nitin Reddy attempted six 3-pointers in his 1 minute, 42 seconds of playing time. The fourth one bounced high off the rim, almost touched the shot clock, then fell cleanly through the net. When it dropped through, Reddy sprinted to the other side of the court.
"I thought it wasn't going to go in," Reddy said. "But after it hit the rim, it did."
The crowd of about 400 erupted. Reddy's teammates shot out of their chairs on the bench, parents rose to their feet, the student section - which had chanted his name before he entered the game - jumped for joy and the pep band's brass section blared in celebration.
"I didn't know I was going to be playing in front of this many fans. It was a packed house," Reddy said. "My dad was here tonight. He saw me."
Reddy takes special education core classes, but takes electives with the rest of the school. Green Hope principal James Hedrick called Reddy, who also leads the football team onto the field for every game, "the most spirited student we've had" in his seven years as principal.
"I've never seen him when he wasn't upbeat. I've never seen Nitin be anything but a positive person in his actions here at Green Hope and his actions with other students," Hedrick said.
Green Hope head coach John Green first met Reddy when the then-freshman attempted to try out for the junior varsity team. Green, who was the JV head coach at the time, offered Reddy a chance to be the team manager.
Green was promoted to varsity coach after the 2009-10 season, and Reddy moved up with him. Reddy attends all of the basketball team's practices and road games. He suited up for two junior varsity games in previous years, but Green hoped for a senior night opportunity to put Reddy into a game. With Green Hope holding a wide lead, Reddy checked into the game.
Cary junior Curtis Brannen guarded Reddy by leaving the senior enough space to shoot, but also held up both arms to softly challenge the attempts. During a free throw following Reddy's crowd-pleasing shot, Brannen slapped hands with Reddy to congratulate him.
"Our crowd was tremendous, but they know Nitin and love that for him," Hedrick said. "But I'll applaud the Cary players... it was just a great show of sportsmanship on their part."
Green said he was confident Reddy would be able to hit one shot. Last year, he made one from 26 feet in a junior varsity game.
"The top of the key is his money shot. He wasn't able to get it - he ... shot some pretty deep shots. But eventually they were going to fall because he is a good shooter," Green said. "When it went in, it was pandemonium. Everybody went nuts, which is one of the highlights of the year."
The initial roar after Reddy's 3-pointer gave way to chants of "Nit-in Redd-y." After some postgame handshakes following Green Hope's 61-34 win, Reddy's teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders and carried him off the court.
Beaming, Reddy held up three fingers on each hand.
Reddy's shot lands about 2:50 into the clip below.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps