Getting in the Game

February 7, 2013 2:18 p.m.  •  5 comments

Mead girls basketball manager Aaliyah Johnson, 18, gets her first chance to play in a game Thursday against Gonzaga Prep. Johnson has transverse myelitis and can’t use her right arm. She played Spokane AAU basketball until the eighth grade when she got sick. Assistant coach Fred Redmon said she would have been ready to play varsity her freshman year had it not been for her illness, so the coaching staff encouraged her to serve as the team manager. To celebrate the work she had done with the team over her four years in high school, Coach Quantae Anderson asked if she would be willing to see what it’s like to play in a big game during Senior Night. Johnson checked with her doctors and participated in 12 practices—she needed 10 to become eligible to play.

Related story: Mead senior gets parting shot

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Mead High School girls basketball manager Aaliyah Johnson joins the Panthers as a player for her last practice on Wednesday, Feb. 6, before getting her chance to play against Gonzaga Prep.

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Normally right handed, Aaliyah Johnson hoists a free throw with her left hand during practice.

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Aaliyah Johnson and her coach Quantae Anderson enjoy the antics of her teammates during practice.

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Aaliyah Johnson says the one tattoo is because she is a Scorpio and the other is because she is a daddy’s girl.

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Aaliyah Johnson works on the jump shot she hopes to take when she enters the game against Gonzaga Prep.

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Aaliyah Johnson says she is feeling nervous as she listens to her coach give the team a pre-game talk in the locker room moments before taking the court against Gonzaga Prep.

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Mead coach Quantae Anderson welcomes Aaliyah Johnson to the bench after the team warmed up before playing Gonzaga Prep.

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Aaliyah Johnson is the first to be announced during the starting lineups.

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Aaliyah Johnson (4) is embraced by teammates as the Mead Panthers gather on the court before the game.

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Aaliyah Johnson gets her first shot up over Gonzaga Prep’s Mary Hoffman in the opening moments of Thursday night’s game at Mead High School. Johnson missed the shot but the Panthers got the rebound and she attempted another but also missed.

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Meads’ Aaliyah Johnson gets a hug from her grandfather Wayne Peck after she played the opening moments of Thursday night’s game against Gonzaga Prep at Mead High School.

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