Basketball game becomes tribute to fallen player

Local News

KeShawn Smith was a senior three-sport athlete at Bethany Christian High School. He was on his way to a college visit at Huntington University when he got in a car accident and passed away. Friday night’s sectional game saw four schools dedicate their play to him. 

Fans and players from Fremont, Bethany Christian, Blackhawk Christian and Hamilton High Schools all wore the number 34 Friday night, KeShawn’s number, in honor of the late Bethany Christian senior. 

Fremont’s athletic director Roger Probst addressed the crowd before the game began, saying everyone there was “family” and in addition to basketball, the night was about “community.” 

“What we’re going to try to do tonight is show some support for Bethany, try to show them that we’ve got their back,” Probst said before the game. “I know that they’ve had a really tough week with all that’s happened and also do a little tribute to KeShawn as well.” 

Probst led the entire gymnasium in a moment of silence before Fremont and Bethany Christian tipped off. Following a group prayer with all four teams, Lineups were announced. KeShawn Smith was announced as a bench player for the night as Bethany Christian reserved a seat for him by draping his number 34 jersey over it. 

The support did not go unnoticed. 

“Fremont has gone out of their way as the host school to really accommodate us and to work with us,” said Hank Willems, principal of Bethany Christian High School. “This is what sports are all about so on behalf of Bethany I’d just like to thank everyone involved.” 

KeShawn’s friends and family were also in the stands. One of his longtime friends said KeShawn’s death has been a difficult experience. 

“It’s been very hard,” said Kassy Miller, a Bethany Christian High School student and friend of KeShawn’s. “He was an extremely close friend of mine. He was like a brother to me. We grew up together. In middle school, he came along.” 

Bethany Christian ultimately ended up losing its sectional game to Fremont, ending its season, but when the final buzzer hit, it was Bethany Christian’s team that got a standing ovation from the crowd. 

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