HARROD — Allen East’s Mason Dotson is a true battler.
And that goes far beyond what he’s ever done on the basketball floor.
Dotson, who is battling cancer, had four points and seven rebounds and was given boisterous cheers by fans on both sides all night.
And yes, Upper Scioto Valley came away with a 58-44 non-league boys basketball victory over Allen East Tuesday at Allen East.
Before the game, both Allen East and Upper Scioto Valley came out in warm-ups wearing No. 23 T-shirts to honor Dotson’s battle with cancer, which started in October.
On the front of the Allen East warm-up shirts read, “Strength,’’ and on the back was, “Dotson’’ and his number 23.
USV wore purple warm-up shirts with a black No. 23 on the front and the back.
This was all a surprise to the 6-foot-1 junior Dotson.
“It was a shock to me, but a good feeling,” Dotson said. “I’ve been going through this all year and it feels good to be out there still. It makes me happy to play.’’
USV is 16-5. Allen East is 10-10.
“He’s a fighter,” Allen East coach Brad Clum said of Dotson. “He’s shown a lot of strength all year long. Tonight he told us he felt good and wanted to play (a lot). That was the most he played all year.
“I can’t say enough about him. He smiles and does his job. I’ve had several players and coaches from other teams tell me what an inspiration he is. … It puts things in perspective. Sometimes we’re worried about losing a game and you have a kid out here fighting for his life.’’
Dotson made his first start of the year, along with the Allen East seniors.
Dotson was able to play nearly half the game.
While he started last year as a sophomore, his minutes have been limited this season, depending on how he feels.
“I’m done with chemo right now (for two weeks) so I’ve been able to go more and more,” Dotson said. “I’m still tired out there because I’m not in basketball shape.’’
Through all the treatments, Dotson said he never wanted to give up basketball.
“I thought it felt good to be normal out here on the court,” Dotson said. “It’s somewhere where I wouldn’t be looked at different because I have it. And I wanted to prove to people I could do it and inspire people. And it felt good to be out here.’’
Most of the Rams’ players knew Dotson, as he grew up going to USV before coming over to Allen East as a sophomore.
“I looked over and saw them (the Rams) and it felt good to have a bunch of people supporting you,” he said.
Added USV coach Jeff Kloepfer, “It’s something we planned a couple of weeks ago. He’s been fighting a strong battle and you have to feel for a kid has to go through something like that.’’
Once the game got going, USV’s 6-foot-4 Quinn Sanders had both his inside and his outside game going.
He finished with 28 points and six rebounds. Sanders made two 3-pointers and hit 12 of 16 from the field.
Dylan Thompson had 10 points and Wyatt Daniels had nine for USV.
Allen East was led by sophomores Tyler Clum, who had 15 points, and Bradden Crumrine, who had 10 points and three 3-pointers.
The Rams jumped out to a 10-4 lead and took a 17-8 lead into the first-quarter break.
The Rams were getting the ball inside to Sanders and he was delivering.
The Rams led 30-20 at the half and Sanders had 15 at the half.
USV pulled out to a 36-20 lead, but Allen East, led by Crum and Crumrine, came back on a 10-2 run to get within 38-30 with 3:45 left in the third.
Back came Sanders with a layup, a 3-pointer and a spinning 10-footer.
Just like that, the USV lead was back to 45-30.
“I told the guys on the bench at the end, ‘We might have lost this, but what happened here tonight makes you feel good,” Clum said.
After the game, Dotson took pictures with players and fans on both teams.
“I haven’t miss a game all year,” Dotson said with a smile. “Some days I’d have chemo in the morning and a game that night.’’
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.