17-year-old Thornton basketball player receives unforgettable Valentine’s Day gift from teammates

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THORNTON, Colo. (KDVR) --  Basketball is a game of skill and a game of heart.

Every now and then, it's also a game so beautiful it can take one's breath away.  

Maddie Johnston is a senior at Horizon High School in Thornton. 

The 17-year-old has a learning disability and functions more like a 13-year-old. 

One thing Maddie does have is a whole lot of determination. 

"I work hard. I show my effort. I don't give up," she said. 

Maddie has played on Horizon High's C squad team the past three years, and this year, she has gotten to sit on the bench during the Hawks' varsity games. 

However, Friday night was senior night.

"I might get to play. I want to make at least one basket. That's my goal for the last home game," Maddie said before the game.

 Maddie's teammates wanted to make sure it was a night she would never forget. 

She received a standing ovation when she and the other seniors walked onto the court with their parents. 

She then learned she wasn't just playing -- she was starting. 

"It's one of those nights you dream about," said her father, Alan Johnston. "It's going to be electric."

And that wasn't the only surprise the team had planned. Little did Maddie know, the team had dialed up a play to make sure Maddie scored the team's first points. 

Just seconds into the game, it happened. Maddie shot a basket off the backboard for two points. The crowd went wild. 

"That's the things you write stories about. That's how you wish stories turn out," said Alan.  

"I actually did it. I actually made my goal come true," said Maddie. 

It was a special night when basketball became more than just a game. It became a gift from a team, a school and its fans to a 17-year-old girl to show her how much she's loved. 

"It's amazing, something I will never forget," said Alan.

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