Jayden Reid of Long Island Lutheran drives around Roselle Catholic's...

Jayden Reid of Long Island Lutheran drives around Roselle Catholic's Tarik Watson during a boys basketball game in Brookville on Saturday, January 29, 2023. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Godswill Erheriene went up to dunk for Long Island Lutheran inside Visscher Gymnasium on Sunday, but on the other end of the court, there was the sobering sight of a Roselle Catholic player. Tarik Watson had collapsed.

This was a big basketball game in  Brookville between two teams in the national rankings. The near-capacity crowd of about 1,000 went silent as trainers, a paramedic and a Jericho Fire Department ambulance crew worked on the standout 6-7 forward with the clock frozen at 6:16 left in the second quarter.

“I don’t think he stopped breathing, but he lost consciousness for a little bit,” said LuHi assistant athletic director Todd Huebner, who was out on the court. “But he came back pretty quick.”

Watson was immobilized as a precaution and placed on a stretcher. He was taken to Cohen Children’s Hospital in Queens, according to Huebner. There was no immediate word on his condition, but before he was wheeled outside, the Division I recruit raised his left arm and gave a thumbs-up.

Crusaders coach John Buck said Watson was responsive and talking. Huebner said Watson seemed in good spirits.

“He had movement in all of his extremities,” Huebner said. “Everything seemed good when he left.”

The game was suspended with LuHi leading 21-10. It isn’t known whether it will be resumed.

Buck took the PA mic and first told the crowd of a delay after Watson left and said a prayer for him, then returned a little while later to inform everyone of the suspension.

“I’m 38 years old and over the last few years, I’ve kind of really with my family, three kids, just learned to rely on my faith,” Buck said of saying the prayer. “Life throws you a lot of things that you don’t always understand. I just made that decision to trust in God.”

Huebner said Watson went “to take a knee on his own. He was obviously feeling lightheaded . . . It looked to me on the video that he passed out.” Buck also said it appeared Watson “fainted without any specific reason and went down.”

Akil Watson, Tarik’s brother and teammate, was very upset. Roselle Catholic coach Dave Boff called it “very scary.”

The Lions’ minds were no longer on playing.

“I’ve coached for 15 years; I’ve never had a game stopped in the middle of it,” Buck said. “And so because of your habits, your mind goes to, ‘All right, is there a way to move on?’ But Coach Boff’s a great guy. He went up and spoke to his team. He said there’s not a way they can play. I completely understand.”

John Lottes, from LuHi’s campus and safety operations team, said this was the first time an ambulance was stationed there for a basketball game.

He was thankful his request for one had been approved in anticipation of this high-profile event and following the recent, in his words, “cardiac arrest on the sports field.”

This emergency indeed brought thoughts of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest during a game on Jan. 2.

“It’s definitely just a crazy time for this to happen, especially with that happening,” Crusaders senior wing Jayden Ross said. “But prayers to [Watson]. I think [the game] would’ve been really exciting. As you can see, the environment was buzzing.”

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