Jackson Liberty at Keyport Boys Basketball Game Postponed After Serious Injury In Game
The Jackson Liberty at Keyport boys basketball game Friday was postponed mid-game after a Jackson Liberty player suffered a serious injury, according to the head coaches of both teams.
Jackson Liberty senior Dylan Teopaco was in stabile condition at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune Friday night after suffering a head injury on a hard fall during play at Keyport High School, according to Jackson Liberty coach Don Connor.
Connor was updated on his player's condition by Teopaco's mother via phone and Teopaco himself via a video message. An official diagnosis of Teopaco's condition was not known as of this post's publish time and he will remain at Jersey Shore overnight Friday.
"He is the lifeblood of our program," Connor said of Teopaco. "He was just coming back from an ankle injury and we were excited to have him back because we really struggled without him. He is such a great kid, really smart, a great teammate and the rest of the guys love him."
Teopaco lost control of his body in mid-air after colliding with a stationary Keyport player and landed on his head, according to Connor.
According to Connor's account, Keyport players near Teopaco immediately showed concern and distress when witnessing Teopaco's state. The players reported Teopaco's body convulsing -- which Keyport coach Phil Recco described as a "seizure-like movements."
The athletic training staff on site tended to Teopaco until emergency medical technicians (EMT) arrived. According to Connor, the staff used an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and oxygen to stabilize Teopaco on the court.
"The Keyport Police, the EMT's the athletic trainers, the athletic department staff, the coaches -- they were all incredible," Connor said. "It reminded me of (Damar Hamlin) from the Buffalo Bills last year. It was just a very alert, well-trained group of people who knew exactly what to do. It was getting scary there. His blood pressure was dropping and they used the AED on him. It was serious."
Connor said Teopaco regained consciousness before leaving in the ambulance and did not immediately recall what happened.
Keyport administration cleared out the gym while EMT's tended to Teopaco and the teams decided to postpone the game. Jackson Liberty's scheduled game vs. Toms River South on Saturday has also been postponed.
"Our players went back into the locker room and I walked in and everyone was crying their eyes out," Connor said. "I had a feeling we weren't going to continue playing and when I saw the scene in there, that was it. I told Phil we had to postpone it and they totally understood and supported the decision."
Jayson King is a junior at Central Regional High School and played with Teopaco in each of the past two seasons while both were students at Jackson Liberty. King heard about Teopaco's injury shortly after his current team's victory over Toms River North on Friday night.
"It's heartbreaking to hear about it," King said. "He is such a great kid. I love Teo. I heard it was on a charge. He puts his body on the line every night. It just really sucks, that's my boy. Hopefully it's not too bad and he can recover quickly."
Before transferring to Central, King and Teopaco made up Jackson Liberty's starting backcourt in each of the past two seasons.
"He pushes you at practice," King said. "He is a really quick kid and he's super smart. His IQ is high. He's a great point guard, he plays hard all the time -- it was amazing playing with him the last two years."
Teopaco is in his third year as a starting senior point guard at Jackson Liberty and is also a National Honor Society student, according to Connor.
"He is the heart and soul of our team," Connor said. "When you see that happen to a kid like that, it shakes you. There were definitely some lessons learned way beyond basketball tonight."