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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
5 Aug 2023
Brendan Connelly

NextImg:CM’s Ryan Higgins A Shot For Life boys champion in impressive fashion

HANOVER — Ever since his childhood days, the court at Catholic Memorial has served as a sanctuary for Ryan Higgins and his father, Bruce. If you were to stroll into the West Roxbury gymnasium, chances are you would find the two, always striving to improve on their games.

On Saturday, years of hard work paid off. Ryan Higgins would go on to convert 87.56% of his shot attempts, winning the 2023 A Shot For Life boys basketball championship at Starland Sportsplex and Fun Park in the process.

For Higgins, capturing the title for his dad was an ultimate goal. During the last few years, his father has courageously battled melanoma. Yet in spite of everything, he has always been there, rebounding for his son as a mentor.

“The link between him having cancer and this being a fundraiser for cancer, it means a lot,” Higgins said. “Because he’s had cancer for a while now. It’s been off and on. For (us) to win it, it feels great.”

Higgins beat out numerous stars for the crown, including the likes of Phillips Exeter’s Ryder Frost (84.66%) and longtime St. Sebastian’s standout Trevor Mullin (82.75%).

To the surprise of few, he opted to select his father as the one to feed him passes. The longtime Catholic Memorial assistant coach couldn’t help but become emotional during the ceremonies.

“He works really, really hard,” Bruce Higgins tearfully said. “I just couldn’t be prouder of the kid. He grinds. He’s the only guy in the MIAA here, and he took a lot of pride in that. He’s been wearing an ‘A Shot For Life’ T-shirt since second or third grade, because he was the ballboy at Catholic Memorial back when we won the state championship … he’s had his eye on this since second or third grade. I’m just proud of the kid.”

Ryan Higgins concluded his day by draining his final 25 shots, putting an emphatic exclamation point on an epic performance.

“What I would say is that when we pick our roster, we know how to scout,” said ASFL Founder and CEO Mike Slonina. “We know what we’re looking at. So, I’m actually not surprised at all. (Higgins) was picked for a reason. He was picked because he deserved to be here, and because we thought he had a chance to win. And he did. So, credit to him, he’s worked so hard to be as good as he is.”

According to Slonina, nearly $50,000 has been raised by the tournament so far. He emphasized that nothing is possible without the hard work that the participating athletes turn in.

“Every ounce of credit goes to the players in this organization,” said Slonina. “These are kids that are going through success at a young age. People say adversity reveals character. I think that’s partly true. I think success reveals character. The fact that they’re so unselfish, that they do this, they raise the money, they come to an orientation, they really put a lot into it to be in that jersey, and to be here at the All-Star Game and the Challenge. I think they deserve a mountain of credit for that.”

As his son raised the trophy, Bruce Higgins smiled, and reminisced on all their years together. Not simply as a coach and player, but also as a father-son duo.

“I can’t put it into words,” he said. “I know how hard he works at it. He doesn’t take time off. To be a good player, you have to sacrifice a little bit. We talked about that when he was little, that if you want to play, and you want to play at a high level, play at college, you have to make some sacrifices. He’s done that. He’s a 4.0 (G.P.A.) academically, and he can shoot a basketball pretty good, too.”