The stage is set for Wednesday's Monsignor Martin boys basketball championship game. The state's top-ranked team in Class A, Canisius, battles Bishop Timon for the third time this season. YNN's Andy Young has the story of a young man from Timon, who win or lose Wednesday night, has the heart of a champion.
Senior forward Ryan Dougherty played a key role with nine points in Timon's semifinal victory over St. Joe's on Sunday. The fact that he's even on the court is a testament to his desire to be a part of the action.
He has to wear a brace on his knee because he's just a couple of months removed from surgery to repair a torn ligament.
It was an injury he suffered in the first game of the football season. He played through the pain the entire year, quarterbacking the Tigers to the Monsignor Martin Championship game.
"Had surgery December 13th, rehabbed it pretty hard. I got my strength back up to 91 percent or something, and I'm here now," he said.
Ryan returned returned to the floor last week; an astonishing feat, but it comes as no surprise to those who know him.
"I've never seen it. I've been around sports my whole life. A guy that works like that, this kid is unreal," said Joe Mihalics, head coach.
Dougherty's return has inspired his teammates, and has them believing anything is possible. The timing couldn't be more perfect, as they try to pull off the upset against the #1 team in the state.
"Coming off an ACL tear isn't easy, but Dougherty showed that with hard work and dedication and getting back to his team, that shows true heart," said Manuel Welch, senior guard.
"I just want to play regardless of how I feel. I just want to be in this game. This is the biggest basketball game of my career, so I don't think there's much that could keep me out of it," said Dougherty.
Proving the heart is the strongest muscle he has.