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Sports

VIDEO: Lyndhurst HS Basketball Team Manager With Autism Sinks Buzzer Basket

Lyndhurst High School senior AJ Leone sinks a basket before the buzzer on senior night.
Lyndhurst High School senior AJ Leone sinks a basket before the buzzer on senior night. Video Credit: Laura Comppen

AJ Leone has been dutifully serving as manager of the Lyndhurst High School Varsity Boys Basketball team for the past two years.

He's been to each and every practice, helping out in any way he can during drills, filling in as an extra man and making sure all baskets are properly put away. 

"AJ is completely dedicated to the team," Coach Tom McGuire said. 

"He tried out for the team, and I thought it would be a good idea to have him be a part of the team in some aspect."

That moment came last Wednesday on Senior Night, when the team presented 18-year-old Leone with a jersey of his own (story continues below photo).

Left: AJ Leone and coach Tom McGuire. Right: Lyndhurst HS Varsity seniors.

Laura Comppen

The plan was to get Leone on the court in the game's fourth quarter against Park Ridge High School.

"The anticipation was definitely building as our lead kept growing," said McGuire, "and it was only a matter of time before I’d put him in."

With Lyndhurst in a comfortable lead in the fourth period, McGuire put Leone in the game.

Nearly a minute was left on the clock as Leone took his first shot -- a miss. He kept shooting with encouragement from the crowd, his team and even members of the opposing team.

Leone didn't stop until the ball went in. He managed to sink a basket right before the buzzer, much to the delight of the cheering Lyndhurst crowd. 

"There were chills at the reception he received," McGuire said.

"He deserved the opportunity, and I’m glad we were able to provide him with it after all his hard work and dedication to the program."

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