Unified teams hit the court for annual hoops game

Knights, Marauders enjoy the opportunity to show off their basketball skills
By David Pan | Mar 06, 2019
Photo by: David R Pan Mariner’s Ashley Scheuerman (left) points out the basket to teammate Ethan Wood during the annual Unified Basketball game against Kamiak Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Kamiak High School. The Knights won 59-52.

The third annual Unified Basketball game between Kamiak and Mariner featured fast break lay-ups, 3-point shots and tough defense.

But most importantly, a good time was had by all – players, coaches, fans – at the Tuesday, Feb. 26 event at Kamiak High School.

In Unified Basketball, Special Olympics athletes or students with special needs are paired up with Unified Partners or student peers. Each Unified Basketball team consists of three Special Olympics athletes and two partners.

Kamiak’s Kurt Hardy joined the Unified team this season after helping to manage the boys basketball team last year.

The sophomore enjoyed getting out on the court with his teammates against the Marauders.

“It went really well,” he said. “We are very competitive and we have a lot of heart. We play hard. We support each other. But most of all we have a lot of fun.”

Mariner junior Ashley Scheuerman became involved in Unified Sports two years ago, initially providing support to the program. This is her first year as a player.

Scheuerman was out on the court helping teammate Ethan Wood.

“I motivate him a little bit,” Scheuerman said.

Mariner coach Austin Richard noted that some of the athletes get help from partners.

“There are partners who are there to assist kids who maybe need a little extra support on the court,” Richard sad. “They (partners) are not allowed to touch the ball, but they help them transition from offense to defense.”

Scheuerman has become friends with Wood.

“He’s probably one of the smartest kids I’ve met,” Scheuerman said. “He uses his talking iPad to communicate with you and he understands a lot. He’s super caring and super loving.”

Being involved in Unified Sports has had a major impact on Scheuerman.

“I’ve learned to definitely be patient and always to look on the bright side of things,” she said.

Her advice to those who have an interest in Unified Sports – do it.

“Definitely take a step and try it,” Scheuerman said. “It’s a lot of fun and you’ll learn a lot.”

Kamiak coach Georgia McClaskey said that Tuesday’s game is important because it opens students’ eyes.

“This night is for them to kind of see – wow. I want to be a part of that,” McClaskey said. “They see the relationships and the connection and the spirit that comes out. I’ve probably had 10 partners come up to me the next day after school of this game every year and say, ‘how do I become a part of this?’ That’s why we do this.”

The Kamiak and Mariner Unified Sports programs continue to grow. Mariner has about 25 athletes out, while Kamiak has 35. Kamiak started its Unified Sports program four years ago, while Mariner is in its third year.

The Knights now have three assistant coaches and two volunteers.

“It takes a village to do this,” McClaskey said.

Before the Knights took to the court, they talked about what Unified Sports meant to them.

“The three words that came up were heart, inclusion and dedication,” McClaskey said. “I said those are three words that we have to model and show our school, our community what that means.

“I was just so proud of how they did that. We shared the ball, We got people shots. We celebrated every little thing and that’s what this night is about.”

 

STATE RUNNER-UP: Kamiak took second place in Division 1 at the Unified Basketball state championships Saturday, March 2, at the Special Olympics Winter Games in Wenatchee. Alicia Anderson hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer in the quarterfinals and Kurt Hardy scored 16 points to lead the Knights to a semifinal win. Austin Kim had a team-high 17 points in the championship game. Mariner took sixth place in Division 2 play.

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