Lauren Hill fulfills college basketball dream

CINCINNATI - Xavier University's Cintas Center sold out Sunday night as more than 10,000 fans crowded in to watch a Lawrenceburg teen fulfill her dream of playing NCAA basketball.

Mount St. Joseph University freshman Lauren Hill took the court to a standing ovation from thousands of screaming fans to play a college basketball game that could be her first and her last.

Hill, 19, was diagnosed with DIPG, or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a rare form of cancer that doctors say has left her with only weeks to live.

To ensure she would have a chance to fulfill her dream of playing college basketball, Hill's team was given special permission by the NCAA to start their season early.

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Hill wasted no time on the court – starting the game off with a layup just seconds into play.

She spent the remainder of the first half supporting her team from the sidelines with headphones and sunglasses on, as the cancer leaves her very sensitive to light and sound, before returning to the court for a second, right-handed layup later on.

"The second basket was even more awesome because I made it with my right hand, which is my hand that I've been having difficulties with," she said.

GALLERY: Lauren Hill fulfills college basketball dream

At halftime, Hill accepted the "Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award" from the Basketball Writers Association and Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings.

"She changed the lives, not just of the people right around her, but people all over the world," Catchings said. "And I think that says a lot, for one person to be able to make a difference."

Though the event was billed as "one last game," Hill told those closest to her she wants it to be known simply as her first college basketball game.

"Yeah I don't want it to be my last game," Hill said. "And I don't plan on it being my last game, even if I can't play."

For Hill, who demonstrated the strength of the lions her school's team is named after, Sunday's game was the culmination of a life's dream.

"It was so thrilling to get there and be able to put my foot down and just feel the roar of the crowd and the vibration of the floorboards and … I just love it so much," Hill said.

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Even though Sunday might be her last time on the court, Hill remained focused on the bigger picture: finding a cure for DIPG.

"I really hope that this isn't the end of the support, you know? That this game isn't the end," Hill said. "I don't want it to be the end."

All of the money raised at Sunday's game for Hill will go to The Cure Starts Now Foundation.

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