N.C. teen's Hail Mary shot gets help from late friend

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A couple months ago, just outside Greensboro, N.C., the Bishop McGuinness boys' basketball team had what may be the most remarkable game in school history.

"I still can't believe that even happened," one player said.

Coach Thompson told each player to pick someone to dedicate the game to. CBS News
"I felt like there was no one who could stop us," said another.

"I will remember this game for the rest of my life," a third player said.

The game was against their arch rivals, Mount Airy High School. But to fully appreciate what happened here, you first need to know how Coach Josh Thompson prepared them for this night.

It all started a few days earlier with an old ball and a gold Sharpie. Coach Thompson told each player to pick someone to dedicate the game to. Could be an uncle, a grandpa -- one kid picked his parents.

Spencer Wilson CBS News
They all enjoyed the exercise, but it's safe to say no one took it more seriously than junior guard Spencer Wilson. He picked his friend Josh Rominger.

"Josh's passion for life just really drew me towards him," Spencer said.

Spencer and Josh were two great friends with one lousy thing in common: they both had cancer. The difference was Spencer beat his, and Josh didn't. He died nine months ago.

Spencer wrote a letter to Josh's mom explaining what they were doing and why he would be playing for Josh.

"Just wanted to let you know the impact your son has on my life, to this day," Spencer wrote. "I will never forget him. Play for Josh."

Josh Rominger and Spencer Wilson CBS News
"I read it and cried," Josh's mom, Deena Rominger, said. "They just had that bond. Nobody else knew how Josh felt, except for Spencer."

Spencer said he still thinks about Josh every day. That's why this opportunity meant so much to him.

"During the timeouts, when we touched the ball, I found where I wrote 'Josh,' and I looked for that," Spencer said. "Put my hand on it every single time."

Spencer thought of his friend, whom he said "meant a whole lot to me."

Which brings us to the end of that game. With two seconds left on the clock, Bishop down by a point and their rivals at the free-throw line, Bishop needed a miracle. And some say that's exactly what they got.

Bishop and its fans celebrate the team's big win. CBS News
"Rebound comes down to Gardner, leads it ahead to Wilson, he's going to lob it up from 3/4 court," the announcer said. "That's got a shot -- it's good! Oh my goodness! Spencer Wilson from 50 feet out wins the game for the Villains!"

In the official record book, Spencer Wilson will get credit for that remarkable Hail Mary. But the boys at Bishop believe Spencer's friend Josh deserves at least an assist. And no matter what you believe, you've got to score one for friendship.

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  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.