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Teen Plays 1st Varsity Game Before Heart Surgery

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A dream came true Tuesday night for a Minnesota basketball player who inspired her classmates with her passion for the sport.

Maddie Briggs stepped on the court for St. Michael-Albertville's varsity match-up against Big Lake.

It's her first game for varsity--and her last time on the court for awhile.

"It literally is my life," Briggs said. "I've played it ever since I was little."

It's pretty easy to see her passion once Briggs gets a basketball in her hands.

At an even 5-feet tall, it's a challenge, so it's only fitting that a girl who's faced plenty of challenges in her life, would find comfort on the court.

"She was actually getting prepared to get cut, but with a kid with her spirit--we're not going to cut a kid like that,"  St. Michael-Albertville Basketball Coach Kent Hamre said.

Teammates will tell you that Briggs--both literally and figuratively--has the biggest heart on the team. Turner syndrome has enlarged her aorta to the point that putting off surgery any longer would be too risky.

But before that happens, a girl who had never played a single minute of varsity basketball got the call she'd been dreaming of.

"I was ecstatic, it was awesome," Briggs said. "It was literally a dream that I've had ever since I was a kid."

It was a dream for Briggs' mother, too, but not without butterflies.

"I am extremely nervous, my heart is just beating outside my chest," Deborah Briggs said. "It's very awe-inspiring what's going on here."

Briggs was introduced with the varsity team, and got the reaction you might expect.

The Turner syndrome rally cry, "short happens," could be found on teenage shirts and around the gym.

Briggs didn't play the first half, but with eight minutes to go in the second, the smallest girl on the court got the biggest reception.

And, a little later, she got the biggest basket.

"It was awesome, the best moment I ever had," Briggs said. "It was just great to have it with my team and the support of the fans. It's a night I'll never forget."

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