On March 2, an unlikely moment of camaraderie unfolded between two high school basketball rivals in Pikeville, Kentucky. The Martin County High School boys’ basketball team was in the final quarter of a tense game when music suddenly began playing. It wasn’t their own small 23-member band, which was unable to cheer them on due to a bus driver shortage.
Instead, the nearly 100-member band of a rival school, Pike County Central High School, had taken over to even the playing field.
The Pike County Central Band had found themselves with some downtime before their school’s game and noticed one team had a band cheering them on while the other didn’t. Jason Johnson, director of the Pike Central Band, explained that after some encouragement from audience members and cheerleaders, his band decided to take action and perform for the Martin County Cardinals.
This was no easy decision, as there was a possibility that his school would face them later in the tournament. But the kids — shown below having fun at the tournament, but also putting in the work to rouse the audience with their tunes — knew it was the right thing to do.
“It was the students who really stepped up and banded together,” Johnson told the Washington Post. So he made up his mind, saying, “Let’s just do it.”
Mountain Top Sports, which covers sports in the region, shared a video clip of the performance on Facebook that captured the band’s sound booming through the arena as cheerleaders and fans danced in sync to the tune.
The atmosphere immediately changed when the band started playing. Energy soared through the arena as kids supported each other with enthusiasm. An added bonus? The Martin County Cardinals won 80-71 in overtime.
“The crowd’s energy just really pushed us to the end,” Luke Hale, 17, a member of the Martin County High School boys’ basketball team, told the Washington Post.
After their performance went viral on social media, the Pike County Central High School Band announced they would take a special trip to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, to join Martin County High School’s 23-member band at the Sweet 16 of the state tournament. The collaboration will help cheer MCHS on throughout the game.
“(In) the mountains, we take care of each other,” Pike County Central High School Principal Tim Cline told the Lexington Herald Leader. “Helping your neighbor is what has sustained us for generations.”