Durham Academy girls’basketball season closed on a disappointing note last week with a 71-32 playoff loss at Raleigh rival Ravenscroft, ending their season at 17-10.
The Ravens swept the Cavaliers 3-0 during the season.
DA boys did not make the playoffs and ended their season at 19-11.
But that’s just what appears on paper.
The Cavaliers are much bigger winners after three of their players survived a Jan. 9 automobile accident that could have destroyed the team and hurt the entire academy.
Senior Alston Thompson and juniors Cam Brown and Ryan Hester were involved in the car crash that still has Hester recovering from injuries.
Thompson and Brown were able to return to the team for its final three games.
“When we were at our lowest, there was always someone there to pick us up,” head coach Tim McKenna said on Senior Night. “Since that terrible accident on Jan. 9, this team has done what others thought was impossible. They have won seven of their last 10 games and are one win away from securing second place in the TISAC and a possible state playoff bid.”
The Hester family has since relocated to Atlanta so Ryan can receive specialized care at the Shepherd Clinic, one of the nation’s top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in treating brain injuries. His parents have created a blog detailing his progress.
The DA community is also supporting the family in other ways.
Sharon Von Horn, a mother of two former students, organized the creation of a “healing hands quilt” for Hester’s hospital room. The quilt was sewn at the academy so students, faculty and supporters could write inspirational messages in their handprints.
“I had watched him (Ryan) play basketball and could not get his face out of my mind,” Van Horn said. “…I felt a sense of urgency and was sensing that others were feeling like this as well. We all wanted to send comfort and healing powers to Ryan and his mom and his dad, to make sense of this tragedy.”
McKenna said the incident has brought the entire community together.
“I could not be more proud of this team and am honored to be their head coach,” he said. “These young men have been examples to their peers of how to deal with adversity and support one another in times of need.”