BUFORD, Ga. — At the first home game of the basketball season, there was a certain feeling in the air. A feeling that something special was about to happen at Buford High School.
That feeling grew as the scoreboard clock counted down to gametime. As soon as the team hit the court, it was clear: Friday night, the magic number was 10.
It was the number worn by 16-year-old Buford basketball player Adam Smith. Last September, the young player collapsed during a pre-season workout and died three days later.
His teammates, fellow students and members of the community honored Adam on Friday with a “Silent Night.” The rules were simple: no cheering until Buford scored its 10th point. Then, the crowd would go crazy.
Head Coach Allen Whitehart said the players were eager to do something to honor their teammate.
“There’s good days and bad days,” Whitehart said of dealing with the loss. “We struggle sometimes together, and we just take it day by day.”
For eleven long minutes, the gym was mostly silent, save the sound of referee whistles and squeaking tennis shoes.
Finally, the silence was broken with a free throw — Buford’s 10th point.
Dr. Banks Bitterman, Buford High School principal, struggled to find words to describe the moment.
“Family,” he said. “It feels like family.”
Adam’s father, also in the crowd, was moved to tears.
The team will honor Adam again at another home game later in the season, where they will donate much of the night’s proceeds to a scholarship established in Adam Smith’s name.