GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – South Greene senior Andrew Thornburg has always been a basketball guy.

“I don’t even remember when I started – I just know I’ve played through kindergarten until now,” he recalled.

He tried out other sports early on, including football – and his dad’s favorite – baseball.

“I played baseball until about sixth grade and then I quit and came back sophomore year to play here,” he said. “But, it just never was, like, my thing.”

For him, none of it compared to the the relationships he was able to forge on the hardwood.

“It’s amazing having that friendship, that connection with your teammates,” he said. “The big moments, the big shots, the big games and intense moments. It’s just amazing.”

He says the old cliché about stronger bonds off the court leading to better chemistry on it, is true.

“You know when they’re going to cut, you know when they’re going to make that pass or when they’re going to take that shot,” he said. “We’ve had alley-oops thrown because we all just know each other. We have crazy moments on the court together because of how well each other.”

But, Thornburg lost some of that feel – that connection – toward the beginning of his junior year.

“I got my first start about the eighth game of the year and I tore my ACL about three minutes in, probably,” he explained.

Not only that, but he tore his meniscus and dented the bone, as well. It sidelined him for the rest of the season and the following summer.

“You never realize how much you miss something until it’s really gone,” he said. “I got to experience it being gone before it was really gone forever.”

“So, that senior season, the first time I was at a practice – it felt like being in a game at that point.”

Thornburg did return this past wither for his senior campaign, as he rejoined his best friends on the court. That connection returned, as the Rebels defeated Johnson County and Chuckey-Doak in late February to claim a District 1-2A title.

“We were seen to be the fourth team – one of the bottom teams of our district,” he said. “Then we came out and won the whole thing. That buzzer going off in that district game was insane.”

The only thing that made it better – was accomplishing the feat surrounded by his guys.

“Playing with your best friends is the most fun you can ever have,” he said.