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Sportsmanship wins Gettysburg-Washington game

Gettysburg’s 83-69 men’s basketball victory over Washington College on Saturday didn’t end on a buzzer beater, but it sure was a one-point win for Bullets’ senior guard Cory Weissman.

Weissman, who suffered a life-threatening stroke while weight training during the off-season of his freshman year, had worked his way back to the team but hadn’t played a single minute until this game – on Senior Day. Gettysburg coach George Petrie started Weissman and then subbed for the player who still struggles to run because of the stroke that at one point left him paralyzed on one side of his body.

With under a minute to play and the game decided, Petrie reinserted his motivational senior. After a Washington basket with 19 seconds left, Shoremen coach Rob Nugent called a timeout. On the inbounds pass, some media accounts say that Weissman drew a foul, but what actually happened was that Nugent instructed his team to foul Weissman.

Because Gettysburg was in the double bonus, Weissman, who hadn’t scored a point in his career, had two chances to do so in his final game. He missed the first, but the fairy tale was completed with a swish on the second, much to the delight of the home crowd.

“There was not a dry eye in the place,” said Gettysburg Athletics Director David Wright.

Wright was so moved by the moment that he wrote the following letter to Washington President Mitchell Reiss and Athletics Director Bryan Matthews:

“On behalf of the Gettysburg College community, I want to write and thank you for creating an atmosphere of outstanding sportsmanship at Washington College. On Saturday, your men’s basketball coach, Rob Nugent, along with his coaching staff and student-athletes, displayed a measure of compassion that I have never witnessed in over 30 years of involvement in intercollegiate athletics.  

“Cory Weissman, a senior player at Gettysburg, suffered a life-threatening stroke while weight training during the off-season of his freshman year. Cory worked daily to rejoin the basketball team after the stroke left him paralyzed on one side of his body. He hadn’t played a minute since the stroke, as he still struggles to run.  

“Because we were celebrating Senior Day on Saturday, our coaches arranged to have Cory start, and after the tip he would resume his spot on the bench. Rob gladly agreed to this request and the game proceeded as planned. The most exceptional point in this story came in the closing minute of play.

“The outcome of the game was determined, so our coach reinserted Cory into the game.  Upon noticing this, Rob called a timeout. He must have instructed his players to let Cory get the ball and then intentionally foul him so he might have a chance to score a point.

“According to our coach, this was not scripted, but instead Rob’s idea.

“The gymnasium was packed with Gettysburg fans as we were also celebrating the 2011 women’s lacrosse team winning the national title with a ring and banner ceremony at the conclusion of the basketball game. Cory went to the line and proceeded to miss the first free throw. Amazingly, he made the second and will graduate in May having scored a single point in his collegiate basketball career – thanks to Coach Nugent and the WC basketball program.  

“I cannot tell you the number of people that have told me how impressed they were with how Coach Nugent and the WC team handled themselves. I might also mention that during the senior recognition at the beginning of the game, the entire WC contingent gave Cory a standing ovation and during player introductions, Coach Nugent gave him a hug. 

“I have never been more proud to be associated with the Centennial Conference and Division III of the NCAA. I am still in awe of what I witnessed on Saturday and wanted you to know the details.”