An Indiana cheerleader was needed to rescue a basketball during the Hoosiers' NCAA men's tournament game against St. Mary's on Thursday night.
The game ball got wedged atop the backboard between the backboard and shot clock early in the second half. It was too tall for anyone to jump up and get and an official's attempt to knock it down with a floor mop while standing on a chair was unsuccessful.
So the Indiana cheer squad got called into action. The enterprising cheerleaders realized it'd be easiest if Nathan Paris lifted Cassidy Cerny up to the top of the backboard. And it worked!
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 18, 2022
“They kept trying different ways and nothing really was working," Paris told NBC's Today show on Friday. "And so all of us kind of looked at each other and our captain, Ethan, (said), ‘We need the tallest guy to lift somebody up to see if we can get to the top of the backboard.'
“So, I’m one of the tallest on the team, so I grabbed Cassidy and said, ‘Maybe this’ll work,'" he said.
We appreciate the ingenuity. It was probably easier for the cheerleaders to get the ball than it was for officials or players to try to figure out how to get the ball themselves. After all, they practice lifts all the time for game situations. The game situations aren't typically like this, however.
Unfortunately for Indiana, that was the best play anyone from the school made all evening. Indiana was losing by 16 when she had to make the save and the deficit only grew from there as the Hoosiers started the second half shooting just 1-for-11 from the field.
Indiana ended up getting blown out, 82-53.