Fort Mill and Nation Ford high schools may be rivals, but after last Friday night, it’s safe to say they aren’t bitter rivals.
In the final minute of the boys’ varsity basketball game, Fort Mill senior Matt Kjeldsen checked into the game to a deafening roar from the Jackets’ crowd.
Kjeldsen, 6-8, known at “Big Matt” is a high-functioning autistic, immediately got involved in the action as Nation Ford purposely turned the ball over to him and then fouled him trying to send him to the line. But he needed to be foul again, gently, to get his opportunity.
Nation Ford's Ian Corley, who scored seven points in the game for the Falcons, committed the second intentional foul after Fort Mill inbounded the ball, sending Kjeldsen to the foul line. Corley’s foul was his fifth, forcing him to foul out of the game.
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Kjeldsen hit the second of two free throws, again causing the entire crowd – both the home and visiting fans – into a frenzy.
Kjeldsen’s points weren’t the first of the season he has scored. He has played in four games for Fort Mill and is averaging one point and one rebound per game, according to the Yellow Jackets’ stats on MaxPreps.com.
Corley also exited the game to applause, Fort Mill fans included, with the crowd standing and cheering his unselfish gesture. Corley was even thanked by Fort Mill staff working the scoring table and referees working the game.
Afterward the game, Twitter exploded among both Fort Mill and Nation Ford students talking about Kjeldsen’s play and Corley’s selfless act.
Fort Mill won the game 48-36.
Click here to watch a video of Big Matt sinking his free-throw.