Injured Shelton basketball player Devan Wildman scores one more basket

Devan Wildman celebrates Senior Night, and one last basket, with mom Katie, dad Augie, sister Emily and brother Bryce.

Devan Wildman celebrates Senior Night, and one last basket, with mom Katie, dad Augie, sister Emily and brother Bryce.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

SHELTON — Shock and awe took place when Shelton’s girls’ basketball team played host to Wilbur Cross on Senior Night Friday at Murray Gymnasium, as the celebration lasted two plays past the pre-game ceremonies.

The shock to those in attendance came when Wilbur Cross won the opening tip and scored undefended.

The awe was more pronounced. Shelton inbounded the ball, and two passes later Devan Wildman put the ball into the basket. Wildman was injured in the soccer season and is out for what would have been her third year starting for the Gaels.

The plan was simple; the execution took time according to Shelton Athletic Director John Niski.

“It was our coach John Danielski’s idea,” Niski said of getting Wildman on the court one more time. “We worked with Devan to keep it a surprise from her teammates and her family and it worked.”

Niski contacted Wilbur Cross coach Tyrees Thomas, who gave two thumps up to the plan. He then reached out to Wildman’s physical therapist to make sure there was no issue from their end.

“It was an amazing act of sportsmanship,” Niski said. “It is what makes high school sports so special. Devan is an amazing kid who deserves every opportunity to be celebrated. I was proud to have been a small part of this special recognition.”

Wildman left the court after the basket, receiving and giving first bumps to her coaches and teammates.

No one was more startled by the turn of events than Wildman’s family.

“My folks (Katie and Augie) thought it was really cool and nice of my coaches and Mr. Niski to think of me to do that,” Wildman said. “My sister Emily, she’s a freshman, thought it was weird. We are always messing with each other. I think she was confused about the situation because she was asking my parents, ‘What is she doing out on the court?’ My little brother Bryce is 5 and didn’t know what was happening.”

Wildman tore the ACL in her right knee in the first 10 minutes of Shelton’s first soccer scrimmage.

“I was defending a girl and stepped the wrong way,” said Wildman, who saw varsity time as a freshman in both sports and was a starter as a sophomore and junior. “I strengthened my knee in physical therapy for a month before having surgery in November. I knew basketball was out. I’m hoping to play golf for Shelton in the spring.”

Wildman took the injury with as much good grace as possible.

“It is my senior year. I was looking forward to playing basketball with these girls that I’ve been with since I was 5 years old,” she said. “I’m generally a positive person. I continue to come to every practice and game. I didn’t want it to have a bad effect on my team. I try to be a good leader and a good teammate. The same with soccer, I tried to make the best of a bad situation for me and keep at it cheering from the sideline.”

Being there with her teammates was a no-brainer.

“With soccer -- there was 9 of us seniors on same team for 10 years -- it was awesome playing soccer with them. We are a tight bunch on the basketball team,” Wildman said of classmates Keira O’Connor, Emily Sandin, Clarissa Pierre, Kaylee Gura, Ashia Askew and Julz Kost.

“Keira and I have been together since we were 6 or 7 and Emily and I have played soccer and basketball together since forever. Clarissa and I were already friends and she began playing basketball in 6th grade. Kaylee and I are best friends and began playing in Rec. basketball. Ashia joined the team freshman year. Julz Kost transferred in last year. They are all great teammates.”

Wildman gave a shout out to her family for their support throughout her career and during the time lost to injury.

“My brother and sister come to games to cheer me on and you can always hear my parents on the sidelines,” she said with an appreciative laugh. “They have always been there for me to make me a better athlete and a better person. My dad was my coach until I came to high school.”

Wildman plans to go to college, she hopes down south, to study International business and get to travel.

“I’ve heard back from half of them, including Clemson,” Wildman said. “I went on this Europe trip the summer of 2019 for three weeks to France, Italy and Greece. It was with People to People, an International travel program for students. I was with 40 other teenagers from across the country. It was amazing.”

Wildman credits joining the Italian Club when she got to Shelton High for enhancing her experience.

“I took Spanish in 8th grade but chose to try Italian in high school,” she said. “It was a great choice. I love the class. Signora Snell and Signor Mortali are amazing teachers and make the class so much fun.”

While overseas, Wildman spent three days living with a Homestay family, the Borins in Italy.

“I was only two years into taking Italian. I knew a good amount, but nothing crazy,” she said. “Asia Borin was my age and she knew as much English as I did Italian. We were able to finish each other’s sentences.”

After four years of triple-sport duty at Shelton, Wildman is looking forward to being a student in college. Sports will be part of the experience.

“My favorite thing in high school is going to the games, the events that we have. I’m all-in,” she said. “Our student fan section at Shelton is called the Finn Fanatics (Finn Stadium home field) and one of three captains. My mom helps with my outfits. My sister thinks I’m a little crazy, but funny.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354