(WXIN) – For the Indiana Hoosiers faithful, Thursday, March 17, game against the St. Mary’s Gaels proved an all-around disappointment. But two Indiana University cheerleaders gave fans the true highlight of the night (and perhaps the NCAA Tournament) by rescuing a basketball that had gotten stuck behind the backboard.
It happened during the second half of Indiana’s lopsided loss to St. Mary’s. Indiana trailed 45-28 when a shot by forward Race Thompson got stuck behind the backboard, bringing the game to a momentary stop.
Players tried to dislodge it by sticking the handle of a mop into the gap. But despite the 6’10” frame of St. Mary’s Matthias Tass, it wouldn’t reach. A referee then retrieved a chair and tried the same thing with the mop handle. He couldn’t get to the ball either.
Enter the Indiana University cheerleading squad.
Nathan Paris lifted Cassidy Cerny on his shoulders so she could retrieve the ball. The crowd, whipped up into a frenzy, cheered as Cerny reached up and dislodged it.
The day was saved, even if the game itself was a loss. (An 82-53 loss, to be precise.)
The pair spoke with Nexstar’s WXIN the morning after they captured the national spotlight.
“As soon as [the ball got stuck], I was joking in my mind like, ‘Oh we should put a stunt up and we’ll just get it down right there,'” Paris said. “Obviously, you never think it would come to that. They have other things. Once I saw the chair didn’t work, and … the stick didn’t work, then I was like, ‘This might actually end up being a real thing.'”
Paris said his and Cerny’s coach gave them the go-ahead to get the ball, and they jumped at the chance. The rest is viral-video history.
“In the moment it was just something funny to both of us, to our team, that we thought was just gonna get blown over by the end of the game,” Cerny told WXIN. “But almost immediately after it happened we were pulled aside for an interview, then got another interview. I think we got three interviews at the arena.
Video of their stunt soon began circulating on social media, earning millions of views as of Friday, March 18. Cerny said the experience has been “overwhelming.”
“Social media has been insane,” she said. “Hearing from people from our school and hometown friends, relatives and stuff. It’s been really cool to be able to have this experience shared with not only our team, but with everyone who’s watching.”