This time the whole school was watching him attempt the trick shot, plus reporters with video cameras.

Oh, and there was a 6-foot-8 member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

But James Meiergerd nailed it — again.

Meiergerd, 18, is the Nebraska high school student with Down syndrome who sank an inspiring backward half-court shot earlier in January.

A video of the shot, which he pulled off spontaneously during halftime of a varsity basketball game at West Point-Beemer High, went viral and has drawn national attention, including a recent piece on “ABC World News Tonight.”

The shot also drew attention from the Harlem Globetrotters, a team that appreciates a good trick shot.

So the Globetrotters sent player Orlando Melendez to West Point-Beemer to personally invite Meiergerd to be an honorary member of the team when it plays at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center on April 6.

More than 800 students from grade school through high school filled the West Point-Beemer gym Monday for a pep rally with Melendez, who played basketball for the University of North Carolina.

He told the students about growing up in Puerto Rico, which loves baseball, but how he dreamed of playing basketball.

He said to succeed in life you must “follow your heart and work hard every day.”

Then Melendez called Meiergerd to center court, telling the students that the senior is a wonderful example of perseverance. Meiergerd’s fellow student Manny Barragan joined his buddy on the court, just as he had when Meiergerd nailed the shot earlier.

Melendez looked at Meiergerd and said, “Maybe you and I can try to make that shot again — what do you think?”

The students cheered.

Meiergerd lined up his feet at the half-court line, with his back to the basket.

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James Meiergerd attempts his trick shot with Melendez.

He launched his first shot. It hit the rafters, but the students cheered him on.

He took another shot, then another, and soon they were hitting the backboard, just to the left of the basket.

One shot hit the front of the rim.

The students cheered louder.

The crowd quieted as he lined up to make his 11th shot. He tossed up the ball, and it banked off the backboard and through the net.

The crowd erupted.

Students swarmed him. Melendez hugged him.

His parents and other family members had watched from the stands, and his mother burst into tears of happiness when he sank the shot.

His mother, Karen, said her son told her Monday morning before school that he was nervous. He knew he might try making the shot again at the rally.

But she said that when he sat with his fellow seniors in the gym before taking his shot, that seemed to calm him.

She said the school and the West Point community have always shown love and support to her boy, and he knows how much they care for him.

Her son suits up for the junior varsity team, but attends all the varsity games to root for his friends.

Chase Streeter, a senior varsity player, said Meiergerd is an inspiration for the team.

Streeter was in the locker room for halftime when Meiergerd made the first shot Jan. 5. Streeter said he knew he didn’t want to miss the second one.

“It’s something,” he said, “I’ll never forget.”

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oconnor@owh.com, 402-444-1122

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