HELENA — Pierce Brown’s junior season brought upon a revelation for him.
“(Doctors) told me, ‘You’re doing more harm than you should be doing,’” said Brown.
Brown, now a senior on the Helena High boys basketball team, was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve, a congenital heart defect that limits blood flow from the heart to the body, when he was 2 years old. The ailment had plagued Brown’s ability to compete at a menial rate until his junior season for the Bengals.
“Last year, it got to the point where it’s going to harm me more as a person,” said Brown. “So we figured we’d get it done last year, so I could make this season this year.”
The ailment directly affected Brown physically, but his brother Logan, now a junior on the Helena High basketball team, said it wasn’t easy to watch his brother be sidelined from a sport they love.
“It was pretty emotional,” Logan said. “He was definitely one of our leaders. I mean, he’s my brother, so I care about him, and seeing that happen to him during the season kind of crushed me a little bit, too.”
Pierce expected to make a full recovery before his senior season started, so he could advance his skills on the court, but complications during his recovery almost stymied his senior season.
“There was definitely a concern earlier in the year that he wouldn’t be able to play,” said head coach Brandon Day. “When we got word that he was going to be able to play this year, everybody as a team was excited. I’m just happy that he’s had the opportunity to help us and that he’s been able to produce as well as he has despite his history of health.”
Brown recalled being told by his mother that doctors had cleared him for full-speed workouts shortly after the Bengals concluded tryouts.
“It was exciting. I put a lot of work in the summer to get where I am now, as far as lifting, shooting every day at Capital City (Health Club), getting back to doing the things I like and love,” said Brown. “When I found out I could play it was just a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
In his final regular season as a Bengal, Brown has averaged more than 11 points her game while putting home nearly 41 percent of his 3-pointers.
Now, Brown and the other Bengals seniors will get an opportunity to vie for a state tournament bid at the Western AA divisional tournament starting Thursday.