The Perham basketball team got off to a fast start at Park Rapids Tuesday and ended with an 81-23 win. But it was the end of the game everyone will be talking about.
Nearly one year to the date of the incident that made his name and story known to nearly everyone in the state, Zach Gabbard made his return to the basketball court, playing the final two-plus minutes of the game.
“It was amazing,” Gabbard said. “I was a little nervous, but excited to finally be back in a game.”
Gabbard collapsed on the court during a game at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on January 20, 2011. Twelve months of recovery and rehab finally paid off Thursday. He had been cleared to play by doctors in December and returned to practice with his team.
“It was very emotional,” Perham head coach Dave Cresap said. “It was a late decision and I really labored over it. They (his assistant coaches) asked me as we started getting other guys in and my first thought was no. I’d like to get everyone else in first. But they asked again and I rethought it and figured this was as good a time as any.”
Gabbard received a standing ovation from the Park Rapids crowd.
“Their fans were pretty cool,” he said.
Gabbard played the final minutes of running time and got off one shot, a three-pointer, from in front of the Yellowjacket bench.
“It was in and out,” he said. “It should have gone in.”