SARTELL, Minn. (WCCO) — A high school basketball game played in central Minnesota Friday night paid tribute to a murdered college student.

It’s been more than a year since someone killed 18-year-old Tom Bearson at North Dakota State University. He’d only left for college a month before his death.

Now, Bearson’s hometown came together Friday night to remember the young man they miss by playing the sport he loved.

There is a certain excitement felt at a Friday night basketball game. But at Sartell High School, it’s impossible to ignore the other feelings at play.

“He’s our little boy,” Tom’s mother Debbie Bearson said. “We miss him immensely,” his father Greg Bearson added.

As a Sabre, Tom Bearson stood out from day one to his former coach.

“He had this sweet jump shot I hadn’t seen in this gym for a long time,” Sartell basketball coach Dave Angell said.

Bearson was a player remembered Friday night with a new team color.

“Everybody called him ‘Tommy B,'” Angell said. “We just like to say he’s the point guard hoopin’ in heaven right now.”

It’s been 15 months since police found Bearson’s body at an RV dealership in Moorhead, miles away from his dorm at NDSU in Fargo.

“It gives us a reason to get out of bed and take that breath,” Greg Bearson said.

While the wait for answers has been agonizing, Bearson’s parents have stuck to a game plan of their own.

“You realize that giving back is so therapeutic,” Greg Bearson said. “It’s so important to our lives now.”

The two have been busy raising money for gym repairs and college scholarships through a foundation in their son’s name.

“I will never forget him the rest of my life,” Angell said. “I really won’t.”

A night of celebration and loss — as a legacy lives on.

“Let’s win one for Tommy B! Clapping”

Moorhead police say they are still doing everything they can to find Bearson’s killer, including flying investigators to the F-B-I’s headquarters to train in behavior analysis.

A spokesperson said officers share the frustration of time slipping away without answers.

Liz Collin

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