After an emotional locker room and game Sunday, where Winthrop University’s mens basketball team honored four York County police officers shot on duty last month, the coach and players said it was an honor.
The team and coaches clapped for officers during a timeout in the Big South conference game against Longwood, when officers were escorted on to the court.
Head coach Pat Kelsey said that whatever adjustments he and coaches would make were not as important as honoring the officers.
“It was the right thing to do at that moment,” Kelsey said after the game. “The importance of the game pales in comparison.”
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Winthrop honored all first responders and the York County law enforcement officers shot during a domestic violence incident in January. Police said a suspect ambushed the officers near York and shot a K-9 officer, then three members of the county SWAT team, police said.
Det. Mike Doty, 37, of the York County Sheriff’s Office, died Jan. 17 after he was shot a day earlier.
Sgt. Randy Clinton of the sheriff’s office, a K-9 officer, was the first officer wounded late on Jan. 15.
After SWAT responded Doty, Sgt. Buddy Brown of the sheriff’s office, and Sgt. Kyle Cummings of the York Police Department were also shot and wounded, police said.
Chris Doty, Mike Doty’s twin brother, is also a sheriff’s office deputy.
Clinton, Brown, Cummings and Chris Doty were invited on to the court during the game.
Players Anders Broman and Josh Ferguson, who had outstanding games in the win, said the players were proud to clap for the officers in front of thousands of fans.
Broman said officers “literally put their lives on the line.”
Clapping for officers when fans usually clap for players was a “special moment,” Broman said.
“All we do is put a ball in a hoop,” Broman said.
Ferguson said the team could not sit when the officers were introduced. The “respect” to give the officers trumped the game, Ferguson said.
“We don’t get a chance to thank them enough,” Ferguson said.
Kesley called it an “honor” to have the officers in the locker room before the game, where Kelsey thanked the officers for their service and had them as part of the team preparation and huddle.
Kelsey thanked Winthrop’s athletic department and Rock Hill and York County for making the First Responder Appreciation Day a community event.