Lucas Cortez, a senior team manager/assistant coach for the Bishop O'Dowd High boys basketball team who battles a heart defect, made the most of his first high school game Friday on Senior Night at Bishop O'Dowd.
Cortez nailed a three-pointer in front of the O'Dowd bench for the final points of a 99-64 victory over Berkeley.
"I was in the moment. I was just playing the game and that happened to be the result," said Cortez, who has been the team manager for four years. "My teammates were really supportive and really encouraged me to keep playing and take the shot. ... They were very unselfish."
Cortez suffers from hypoplastic left heart syndrome and has undergone multiple surgeries because of it. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a complex and rare heart defect present at birth in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped.
"I had talked to (Berkeley coach) Mark DeLuca ... about three weeks ago. I said 'I've got a kid, it would be incredible if he got in a game,'" said Bishop O'Dowd coach Lou Richie, who called DeLuca "an incredible person with the most class." "I said to the (O'Dowd) coaching staff, 'If we're up, if we're fortunate enough to be up, let's get him in."'
Cortez entered with just under two minutes to play, Richie said. After missing his first two field goal attempts, Cortez sank the 3-pointer and the sold-out Bishop O'Dowd gym rocked with noise.
"It was a surreal moment," Richie said. "Everybody's cell phone was out ... You look at (Bishop O'Dowd star) Ivan Rabb, and I've never seen him as excited as he was for Lucas.
Cortez has been the team manager for four years.
"I've never been so emotional or excited about a moment of basketball in my life," Richie said. "He is an incredible young man."