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It was a nail-biter as the final minutes were rapidly slipping away in the Spartan versus St. Paul game. The ball was passed again to senior Cody Stevens, with just 1:10 left in the fourth quarter. Stevens arched the ball from 16 feet out, and this time it went through. The crowd came off their feet. The roar was deafening.
Whenever a basketball falls through the hoop, one side or the other in the gym stands up and cheers. So, when both sides of the gym comes off the bench and the noise is even more deafening, which side got the goal?
Both sides did last night. It was a magic moment that everyone reveled in.
Cody Stevens has been a manager for the Spartans through high school. Always reliable and hardworking, Stevens has helped and cheered his team on in football, basketball and baseball.
This night, this game was special. It was the first time Cody had put on a Spartan basketball uniform. The stage was set, the lights were on, the cast on the floor and the audience in place. Everyone was pulling for the Spartans, and especially for one player.
Perhaps the community didn’t all know it, but last night was designated ‘Cody Stevens Basketball Night’ at the RHS gym, and the evening couldn’t have gone better.
“I knew I was going to play, but not when,” said Stevens, after the JV game. “If there’s a big lead, I’ll get to play but I did’t know for sure.”
“He was very excited,” said grandmother Pat Converse. We knew there was a possibility he’d play and he’s been practicing with them for the past several weeks.”
The whole thing came about as the result of a caring coach. According to Converse, Stevens was asked by the coach if he got tired of sitting there on the bench all of the time and asked if he’d ever like to play in a game.
“It was an outstanding opportunity to thank Cody for all the hard work he’s put in for the team,” said Coach Duane Bastob. “He’s a full part of the team and has lots of support.”
So, when Coach Bastob learned that Cody was going to a doctor appointment recently, he mentioned that Cody should also get a physical so that he could play.
“All he knew was that he might get to play in a JV game, but I really wanted to get him into a varsity game too,” Bastob smiled.
Those in attendance at both games may have noticed that Cody wore the #15 jersey in the JV game and #32 in the varsity game. This wasn’t by accident. Senior Trey Folvarcik gave his #15 to Cody for the JV game and senior Eric Martin had him wear his #32 for the varsity game.
When Cody went onto the floor with seven minutes left in the JV game, there was a loud round of applause. Each time the senior did so, the students would begin chanting “Cody! Cody!” and whenever the ball was passed to him, many of the players on the sidelines stood up waiting for the moment.
When he was introduced at the beginning of the varsity game, he received a standing ovation. The chants continued whenever he went onto the floor in the last minutes of the game and culminated with the combined cheers of both teams and audience when Cody’s shot hit for two. Though there was still time on the clock and the Spartans won 61-41, the basket that meant the most was the one snared with 1:10 left on the clock.
“This team is a fighting, scrapping team,” said Bastob. “The St. Paul team made us work. We made sure we got Cody into the JV game, and at the end of the varsity game we knew there’d be a good chance to get him in there too.”
“It’s nice of the boys to let him be such a part of this team,” said Converse. “He’s had fun being manager and enjoyed traveling with the boys. It’s been the highlight of his life so far. I don’t think he’ll sleep tonight. It’ll be ringing in his ears. It’s been an awesome evening.”
After the game, friends and audience members waited for the players to come back out of the locker room. No one seemed to understand why it was taking so long.
“We were watching it again on tape,” smiled Coach Bastob. “Over and over. It’s a storybook ending.”
At this point the coach choked up, obviously filled with emotion at the meaning this night represented.
With a husky voice, he said, “As hard as he’s worked for us, it’s the epitome. No one cared about their personal stats. They were just trying to get Cody a bucket. It’s the team aspect. Normally, we don’t slap hands after someone scores and is running back down the court. We get ready for defense. This was different and Trey was the first one to get to Cody and congratulate him. It’s not like they (St. Paul’s) gave it (the basket) to him. They showed a lot of class. They could’ve put three or more guys over to block him. It was just a neat moment and anyone that missed it – well, it was their loss. I know he’ll remember it for a long time.”
There’s at least one coach and team that will remember the feeling in that gym and in their hearts.
Cody is the youngest son of Rebecca Stevens of Richmond and the late Joe Stevens. He resides with his grandmother Pat Converse in Richmond. Cody has worked part-time at Ideal Industries for the past two years.
Photo: Cody Stevens was all smiles after he hit a two-point basket to put the Spartans up, 59-41, with a little over a minute left in the game. At right is RHS Head Coach Duane Bastob. Stevens has been a four-year manager for football, basketball and baseball. (Photos by JoEllen Black/The Daily News)