Sportsmanship, fun on the basketball court

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Special Olympics Ontario - Tillsonburg hosted an eight-team basketball tournament Saturday at Glendale High School. Cambridge, LaSalle, St. Thomas, and the host Wildcats each had teams in four-team 'D' and 'D Rec' divisions.

"We're happy with the results at the end," said Matt MacNeil from the Tillsonburg D Division team after the Wildcats went 3-0 to receive a bye into Saturday's finals.

Tillsonburg defeated LaSalle 16-14 and St. Thomas 18-12 in back-to-back morning games, and Cambridge 22-12 in the afternoon, to receive a bye into the 4:30 p.m. finals. Cambridge edged LaSalle 18-16 in the round-robin. But it was LaSalle triumphing in a No. 2 vs No. 3 semifinal over Cambridge, and the Windsor team carried the momentum into the finals.

Tillsonburg's shooting cooled off in the championship game.

"We were sitting around for two hours," said Wildcats D coach Mark Phipps after a 16-12 loss to LaSalle, "and they had a game just a half-hour before that, so they were still warmed up from that game. It happens when you sit down that long - you can only stretch out so much."

"The ball was not dropping for us," said MacNeil. "Just not dropping for us."

"That's the way it was for us the whole tournament," said Phipps. "The balls were not falling in the basket for any of the teams - everybody was getting good shots, but they just weren't falling in."

Tied 4-4 midway through the first-half of the finals, LaSalle started to pull away with three baskets on some good shooting and rebounding, then extended their lead in the second half.

"Once they (LaSalle) got that lead, we tried to calm them down," said Phipps.

Tillsonburg seemed to find its groove late in the game, scoring two baskets in the final 90 seconds to pull within four, but ran out of time.

"We had some injuries," said Phipps. "They still played, but they weren't playing at 100 per cent. They were trying but... if you're injured, it doesn't matter who you are, you're going to be more cautious."

The Wildcats D team will be back in action on the weekend of March 11 at a London tournament.

The Wildcats D Rec team was 0-3 Saturday.

"They were close against St. Thomas," said Wildcats D Rec coach Doug Cooper, recalling a 16-10 loss.

"Trying to take those three-point shots just does not work," said Cooper, noting the Wildcats wanted to shoot from distance. "We practice in a smaller gym and they're not used to the distance."

But win or lose, they had fun and all the teams showed teamwork and sportsmanship.

"It's great sportsmanship," said Cooper. "They know each other - we play each other in a couple tournaments every year, so they get to know each other."

Cambridge was the eventual D Rec division champion.



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