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King, Abilene Wylie basketball playing for ill father

Jack King

ABILENE, Texas -- Elation for the Wylie Bulldogs could be felt after Tuesday's thrilling overtime win over Wichita Falls Hirschi. Elation not just for a big win, but because for who was in the stands.

"He had a heart attack on Friday, and was at the game Tuesday," said an exhausted Sam King. "Pretty much just says everything about him."

King's father Jack was there to witness his son's team clinch a trip to the regional tournament in Lubbock, but the previous Friday -- while arriving in Brock to watch the Bulldogs play in the area round against Life Waxahachie -- something didn't feel right.

Jack barely made it to the school before being taken to Weatherford, where a pump helped relieve pressure on his heart. Sam had no idea as he helped the Bulldogs to victory.

But after successful surgery, Jack somehow made it to Mineral Wells on Tuesday night, as the Bulldogs inched within two games of a trip to state.

"Ever since Friday he's been talking about that game saying he was going to make it, but nobody really believed him," King said. "It's been weighing on my heart since then and he told me before the game that he was going to be here. I told myself everything I do is going to be for him -- I even wrote his initials on my shoes. He taught me everything I know so just being out here is for him pretty much."

The Bulldogs have rallied around the Kings, helping create an account to raise funds for medical expenses. The team also playing with an extra pep in its step as it sits close to its ultimate goal.

"I know how much this means to them, but we're not done," said head coach Gregg Ruffin. "We've talked about having five games. We've taken care of three and now we have two to go, so we're excited to go get to play (Lubbock) Estacado on Friday."

Wylie and Estacado will play in Lubbock (Rip Griffin Center) for the regional semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

The winner will play either Seminole or Midlothian Heritage in the regional final. That winner will advance to the state tournament.

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