Hulne: Rebels show support for a struggling opponent

Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It was more than just another high school boys basketball game when Southland hosted Dover-Eyota Tuesday night. Southland finished the game with a 54-53 win, but the night’s most emotional moment came before the game even began.

Both teams became united for the same cause in the pre-game ceremony as the Rebels went out of their way to show their support for D-E senior Kale Pike, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer recently. Pike has gone through surgery and chemotherapy and when Southland head coach Matt Webber heard about the ordeal, he knew his team had to do something. Webber and the Rebels decided to make shirts in honor of Pike, they provided him with a basketball that was signed by the Southland team and they raised funds to support him.

Mostly, the team showed him Pike that they had his back, even if they were opponents on the court.

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“It was much bigger than a game. It was more than that,” Matt Webber said. “This kid’s going through some tough times and he’s a senior. It hits you at home and you want to brighten it up for him. He was touched by it and so was his family.”

Southland senior Chris Webber has played against Pike since they were in fifth and sixth grade. He said that Pike’s face lit up when the Rebels showed him their support last night. Pike also had a chance to play in Tuesday’s game against Southland.

“He’s a really friendly guy. Last night was awesome,” Chris Webber said. “Sports bring us together a lot. We’re all playing against each other, but we’re one big happy family. When one person’s going through something, we’re all going to step up and help them. It gives us hope about how we can get through anything if we have friends like that and nothing can keep us down.”

While most teenagers who play high school sports are busy stressing over an upcoming test or worrying about the postseason, seeing what Pike has gone through opened the eyes of the Rebels. The team saw how quickly things can change in a simple instant.

Southland junior Jared Landherr said he was able to see firsthand how quickly things can take a turn in a bad direction.

“Anything can happen to us. We’ve just got to give it all we’ve got when we can, because it can be taken away from us at any point,” Landherr said. “It was really cool to see [Pike] smile and we wanted to let him know he’s not alone through this. It really sucked what happened to him. Even though we’re not necessarily friends on the court, it was really cool to see him play.”

The Southland boys basketball team wears their shirts in honor of Dover-Eyota’s Kale Pike in Adams Tuesday night. Photo by Matthew Schneider/Mower County Independent

The Southland boys basketball team wears their shirts in honor of Dover-Eyota’s Kale Pike in Adams Tuesday night. Photo by Matthew Schneider/Mower County Independent

Matt Webber said that the entire Southland community stepped up in the effort to lift Pike’s spirits. Other schools in the area, including Plainview-Elgin-Millville, have done similar things to help Pike out on game nights.

While the Rebels gave Pike a boost, they also learned what it’s like to pick someone up when they’re down. That’s something they likely won’t soon forget.

“I think they learned a lot from it. The biggest thing is to take life one day at a time,” Matt Webber said. “It goes to show them that there is support out there if something were to happen to them or their family. Cancer has touched everybody in their life one way or another.”