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Cancer-free Kingsbury has awe-inspiring moment at Class B tourney

Sanborn Central/Woonsocket freshman Tanna Kingsbury (34) is hugged by senior Marissa Weber (25) as senior Kelbi Dean (23), sophomore Tayla Weber (24), and junior Morgan Selland (32) walk off the court at the end of a Class B state first-round girls’ basketball game Thursday in Huron. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

LETCHER — Very rarely is there a moment in sports where the entire venue isn’t concerned with winning or losing.

That moment belonged to Tanna Kingsbury, of Letcher, Friday night at Huron Arena as she stepped out onto the court.

On March 28, 2013, Kingsbury was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of cancer that affects large bones in juveniles and young adults.

Flash forward one year.

Kingsbury, a freshman, was told she was cancer-free and had one thing on her mind — basketball.

“She’s had a long battle and just came back at the region tournament and wanted to be able to dress,” Sanborn Central/Woonsocket co-head coach Tim McCain said. “She’s a huge part of our program and very tight with the girls, and they were all inspired by her coming back and being cancer-free.”

Thursday in the first round of the Class B state girls’ basketball tournament, Kingsbury got her chance to get in the game in the final seconds of the Blackhawks’ game against Kimball/White Lake. Fans of both teams and other spectators cheered and applauded as she took the court.

Little did she know, this was just the beginning of her journey back to the court.

Friday night in the semifinal game against Hanson, Kingsbury was once again put in late in the fourth quarter.

“We called a timeout and we wanted to keep setting screens to see if we could get Tanna an open look,” McCain said. “(Hanson coach) Jim Bridge and their girls were a class act and allowed Tanna to catch the ball, and she was able to get open underneath the basket.”

The ball went in, cheers erupted and tears filled the eyes of those witnessing the moment.

“It was so cool to actually get into the game and have a play set up for me in front of fans with everyone applauding me,” Kingsbury said, adding the basket was her first points in a varsity game.

For her efforts, Kingsbury was named The Daily Republic’s athlete of the week, an award voted on by the newspaper’s sports staff.

She said hearing she was cancer-free a few weeks ago was a great feeling and she’s ready to to compete again.

“Finally, I can work out and slowly get back to being in sports, which is what I love,” said Kingsbury, who also participates in fastpitch softball, track and field and volleyball. “I hope to start slowly training and doing rehab and hopefully be back for volleyball in the fall.

“It’s like I finally got to be a normal kid again.”

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.