LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Caitlin Roy entered her first varsity basketball game with less than two minutes on the clock Thursday night – her Atherton High team ahead by only two points in a gymnasium filled with spectators for Senior Night.

She runs the court, takes a pass inside the paint, winds up getting fouled and goes to the free throw line. During a pivotal moment, she shoots – watching the ball bounce off the rim and into the basket.

Her teammates sitting on the bench jump up from their seats. The crowd, already cheering and chanting her name, erupts. Her parents – so nervous that they forgot to press record on the video camera they had brought to the game – are overcome with tears. 

Not too bad for a quiet, petite teenager whose family was told when she was born that she'd never be able to walk, talk or ride a bicycle.

“It was magical,” said Michaele Roy, Caitlin's mother, said as she sat near the front entrance of Atherton on Friday, recalling the moment she says her daughter will never forget.

Neither will her coach, teammates and many others who were watching the Rebels play the Vikings of Valley High School.

“I've seen incredible moments before, but never in person,” said Woody Murphy, the girls head basketball coach. “And this was an incredible moment – I get a little emotional now just thinking about it.”

Caitlin is legally blind, has been diagnosed with autism and cerebral palsy and is developmentally delayed. 

“We were told (when she was born) to be prepared for what was to come,” Michaele Roy said. “We decided that we were not going to accept that diagnosis.”

Caitlin first picked up a basketball when she was in first grade and has played for the Louisville Flyers' basketball team for several years. She's also played for Atherton's junior varsity game. But she'd never dressed for a varsity game.

“I love basketball,” the soft-spoken, yet determined 17-year-old told WDRB News on Friday. “I'm very proud to be on my team.”

Murphy says Caitlin rarely misses a practice and runs the same drills as her teammates. 

“She has fully committed to playing basketball with us,” he said. “She is one of the hardest working kids I've ever met.”

Murphy decided that on Senior Night – a night dedicated to Caitlin and the other seven seniors on the Rebels team – he was going to put her into the game.

“I made the decision that regardless of whether we were ahead or behind, I was going to get her in during the last two minutes,” he said.

Michaele and Troy Roy were watching the game from the stands. Caitlin had already been honored before the game, along with her fellow senior teammates.

With the game so close, Michaele Roy said she had already accepted there was no way Murphy would put her in.

“I mean there's just no way,” Roy says, fighting back tears. “They have to win this, it's Senior Night, it's important for the girls that have been here for 4 years.”

Caitlin entered the game to fans chanting her name: “Let's go, Caitlin! Let's go, Caitlin!”

“She went in and did exactly what she was supposed to do,” Murphy said. “Her free throw was huge – it kind of sealed the game for us. It extended our lead from a 2-point game to 3-point game right there in that moment.”

Her fellow teammates – including seniors Laura Mora, Jasmine Lewis, Mackenzie Dozer, Paige Lockard, Summer Wright, Ruby Allgeier and Lydia Biggs – were ecstatic.

“We were screaming, the crowd was screaming – it was the loudest I have ever heard it,” said Dozer. 

Caitlin is overcome with emotion when she recalls that moment.

“It was awesome,” she said as tears roll down her face. “Everyone was cheering for me.”

Lewis said the plan was to get Caitlin the ball and have her shoot a 3-point.

 “I kind of just held it and had her run around so she could just grab it, but then they fouled her,” Lewis said. “It worked out – it was a really good bucket when we needed it. She got the job done.”

Atherton won the game 49-46. Murphy said the girls are very close – they support each other both on and off the court.

“Caitlin is amazing,” said Lewis, noting all of the things she has overcome. “She inspires us.”

Michaele Roy says what happened Thursday night inside Atherton High School's gymnasium is the “most amazing thing that's ever happened to us.”

“And the coaches and the players made it happen for her,” she said. “We will never forget that.”

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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