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April 24, 2014

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'It Was Just A Game' At Chuckey-Doak Saturday Night

Chuckey-Doak guard Ben Gridley pictured during Saturday night's Region 1-AA game against

Happy Valley.

Originally published: 2013-02-24 01:27:11
Last modified: 2013-02-26 14:31:31

Sun Sports Editor

It's just a game.

We've all heard that saying from time to time.  But rarely do we grasp a true understanding of those four words until something happens that really puts life into perspective.

Such happened at Chuckey-Doak High School Saturday night.

The Black Knights, coming off their first district championship in 23 years, were looking to win a region tournament game for the first time since 2002.

It was the biggest night in the program's recent history.  And when it was over, Chuckey-Doak was victorious.  But in the grand scheme of things, it was just a game.

The final score read 65-49.

History will reflect on the night as a proud chapter in Black Knights' lore.  But when I look back on it, the only number I will remember is 24.

That's the jersey number worn by Chuckey-Doak junior guard Ben Gridley. He played in Saturday night's game and was the team's second-leading scorer with 12 points.

How he did it, I don't know.  The fact that he played at all makes him a stronger person than I.

Immediately prior to the game, Gridley's grandmother became unconscious and had to be taken out of the stands on a stretcher to an ambulance waiting outside the gym.

Chuckey-Doak head coach Sam Broyles left it up to Gridley as to whether he wanted to play or not.

"He said he wanted to play," Broyles said after the game.  "It's just a really sad thing.  I've never experienced a situation like this before."

"If there is a kid in East Tennessee that plays harder or with more heart than Ben Gridley, I'd like to meet them.  He's always been that kind of player.  It's just a sad thing."

Not only did Gridley take the court, but he scored Chuckey-Doak's first five points of the game.  He later added two key free throws in the final minutes after Happy Valley had cut a 20-point deficit down to single digits.

Following the game, Gridley learned that his grandmother had passed away of an apparent heart attack.  She was one of her grandson's biggest fans, having attended almost every game this season.

The death a grandparent is tough. Maybe the toughest loss a child will have to deal with outside of losing a parent.  

Nobody would have blamed Gridley if he chose not to play.  But he did play, with a heavy heart and a tremendous amount of courage. 

Every time Gridley's name was called over the loud speaker, the roar from the Chuckey-Doak faithful rose a little bit higher.  Gridley also had the support of his teammates every step of the way.

"I cant imagine how he feels," Birkir Vidisson said.  "It has to be tough, but we are all here for him."

"In the words of coach (Kyle) Donahue, we all played with one heartbeat tonight."

Years from now, folks going back through the the annals will simply read that Chuckey-Doak beat Happy Valley on this night.  

But that was just the game.
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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