Dying woman sends sister to basketball tournament

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BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - Quinn Peoples is a competitor, about that there is no doubt.

The Butte Central alum was in Pomona, Calif., through this past weekend, trying to help the Montana State University Billings women’s basketball team advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight. Peoples, a forward, helped the Yellowjackets build a six-point halftime lead against Cal Poly-Pomona on Monday, but it wasn’t to be.

The Broncos rallied in the second half, winning 75-68.

The loss ended the Yellowjackets’ season. The loss was disappointing. The loss hurt. Yet, it was Peoples’ easiest loss to take during the past week.

Her biggest loss came last Thursday, with the death of her older sister.

Mairissa Peoples died at the age of 23 after a long and admirable battle with cancer.

No one would have blamed Quinn if she had opted to be with her sister, rather than play basketball in Pomona, where the Yellowjackets had games scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Monday. After all, family is family. Basketball is just a game.

But Mairissa wouldn’t allow it.

“I asked her if she wanted me to stay,” Quinn recalled. “She looked at me and said, ‘No,’ and gave me this look and said, ‘I am watching your game on Friday, you can’t stay here.’

“I knew I needed to go, because she knew if I missed out on this, something I had worked hard for my whole life, she would be very upset with me. She would have done anything herself to play in a regional basketball tournament.”

So Quinn got on a plane and made the trip to California to be with her team. It was the toughest trip she has had to make in her life, even though it was to play the sport that she loved.

“I came home Monday (March 10) night, really late and spent all of Tuesday with her. Wednesday, I was flying out from Butte about 1 p.m.,” Quinn said about the events of last week. “The nurse was there, telling my mom and dad that that the time was coming around. It was really hard.

“She had really changed from Monday night to Wednesday morning.”

Quinn was set to leave for her flight and knew she would have to say goodbye, most likely for the last time.

“I knew there was a chance I could see her again if we lost (that Friday) or if I would have come home and she would have pushed through,” Quinn said. “I knew I had to say my goodbyes.”

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