By Melissa Garcia
ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A special rivalry basketball game ended in a roaring celebration at Pomona High School in Arvada.
Friday night, the final shot was scored by a player with Down Syndrome, who made his very first varsity bucket.
The diagnosis does not come close to keeping the sophomore off the court.
Despite his special needs, teammates said that Kevin Bruno, 15, is one of the most important players on the team.
“Every day, we’re always expecting Kev to be there, and we want Kev to be there,” said Dylan Espinosa, a player on Pomona’s Varsity basketball team.
Kevin, who is very well-liked among his peers, has grown up playing basketball with some of the friends on his high school team.
“He’s always happy, always cheerful,” said Trevor Baskin, another teammate.
Despite his chromosomal variation and a smaller stature than most of his peers, the always happy, fun-spirited teenager is far from being a bench-warmer.
“We got the chance to put Kevin in the game because we were up (on points),” said Jon Baskin, Head Coach at Pomona High School’s Basketball Team.
Baskin got that chance Friday at the Pomona Panthers’ big rivalry game against the Ralston Valley Mustangs.
“We gave Kevin a jersey, and he got in and did what he did best,” Trevor said.
“It was his first shot, (he) ran out there — just ‘money,’” Espinosa added.
Kevin blew everyone away in scoring the winning shot.
Spectators, including parent Cindi Marquez, shot video of the stellar play.
After the ball dropped through the net, spectators in the stands roared with cheers and applause.
“I feel happy,” Kevin told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia. “I feel happy because I just scored (a) basket.”
“Everyone came on to the court and rushed Kevin and everyone started chanting his name,” said Cole Stevens, another one of Kevin’s teammates. “It was an amazing moment. I mean, it brings everybody joy when we got to see Kevin go into the game. And when he did what he did, it was amazing… Kevin is not just a person with Down Syndrome. He deserves to play, just like anybody else.”
“It’s awesome to have him on the team, but I think it’s even better to have him as a friend,” Espinosa said.
Kevin’s performance brought the Panthers’ final score up to 76 against their rival team, which finished with a score of 63.
Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to firstname.lastname@example.org.