Chardon Basketball Team Triumphs Through Tragedy

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CHARDON, Ohio --

Sports have a healing power. They bring people together during difficult times. Chardon High School’s basketball team played its first game since the tragic shootings and came away with an emotional 78-59 win.

The community support was unprecedented. The Hilltoppers faced off against rival Madison for the third time this season, but both teams were rooting for the same cause. Madison, who wear all blue jerseys, warmed up in black t-shirts that read “Chardon” across the front. They also wore red socks to show respect for the Chardon victims.

“It’s called a friendly rivalry for a reason,” one Chardon student said. “We all stand up for each other in times like this.”

Nick Ruckel is a standout player for Chardon who is going to play college basketball at John Carroll University. His parents, Jessie and Collin, said they are proud of the way the players have handled the devastating situation.

“They set the example for the other kids that we are going to move forward and stick together to get back to normal,” Jessie said.

Chardon and Madison kept it close in the first quarter. The teams were tied up at 17 going into the second period, but it wasn’t long before Chardon started to pull away.

An eight-point lead at halftime gave the Chardon community hope that the team could pull off the win. Chardon wanted to give them more hope, though. The Hilltoppers pulled ahead by 19 and kept that lead until the buzzer rang. Now, they advance to the sectional finals.

The fans erupted, and the players were in tears. Sports, once again, reunited a community who has been suffering. Chardon’s victory gave the community a reason to smile, a feeling of normalcy, and a vision of hope.

*Click here for FOX8.com’s extended coverage on the tragedy in Chardon.