- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - They have all kinds of books for X’s and O’s.

And there are just as many filled with motivational sayings.

But there are no books, no clinics for coaches on how to deal with knee-buckling tragedy.

Gregg Wasson got the call at 12:21 a.m.

“I was in bed,” said the Harlowton-Ryegate girls basketball coach of that Sunday, Jan. 12, that turned into Monday, Jan. 13.

“It’s a shock. You don’t want to believe it. Your heart just sinks.”

Social media had been chirping earlier in the evening but nobody wanted to accept the news that was circulating around tight-knit communities.

Dusty Taber, a 17-year-old senior at Harlowton High School, died in a car wreck around 6 p.m. that evening. The accident occurred in Hill County on U.S. Highway 87 near Box Elder.

Taber was a high-energy point guard for the Engineers, a three-year starter, a top student and a leader on and off the court. She was also a five-event qualifier for the Class C state track and field meet.

Taber had a little extra motivation her final year, after missing most of last basketball season because of a knee injury.

“She was a competitor,” Wasson said. “Dusty was mentally tough, a quality person. She always brought that desire to be the best she could be and would do anything to reach that goal.

“Just a really neat kid.”

After hanging up the phone, Wasson called school superintendent Andy Begger and assistant coach Allison Jones to let them know what they would be dealing with.

He then had to tell his daughter Makenzie, Taber’s teammate and classmate, the news. Makenzie Wasson, Kylie Mahana and Taber had played basketball together since fourth grade.

“I had to get Makenzie and tell her. That was tough,” said the father. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child. No parent should ever have to go through that.

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