Local Special Olympics basketball teams begin season

The Jackson County Tornadoes made quite an impression in their season-opening basketball tournament.

Three-pointers rained down. Players flashed to the basket for layups. They blew past their opponents on fast breaks. And they made thunderous moves to pull down rebounds.

On the scoreboard at the end of their first game in the 39th annual Seymour Noon Lions Club Special Olympics Basketball Tournament on Saturday at Seymour Middle School, the Tornadoes had 30, while Johnson County scored 18.

Later in the championship game, the Tornadoes triumphed over Washington County 38-15.

The team’s nine players and coach Jim Shepherd were happy with the results.

“I can’t believe we won both games. It was awesome,” said Rob Smith, who scored six points in the first game.

“It was exciting. I liked it. I made three baskets.”

After scoring two points in the opening game, Josh Beals led the Tornadoes in the championship game with 16 points, including two 3-pointers.

“Oh, I loved it,” he said. “I think we did really good work on teamwork. We were proud. 2-0.”

A.J. Engel, who scored four points in the first game and eight in the championship, said he had a good time playing in his first Special Olympics basketball games.

“It was great, man,” he said. “I’m just happy with everything. We shot well from everywhere. Josh made a few good shots, and Thomas (Emly) made some layups for us. I made some shots, so I just loved it. We played great. We played wonderful.”

Emly led the Tornadoes against Johnson County with 10 points and added 14 more in the championship.

Other scorers against Johnson County were Tim Ashburn with four points and James Knight and Dakota Campbell with two points apiece.

“I thought the team played very well considering it was the first games of the year,” Shepherd said. “We have some new players, and they blended in very well with the returning players. As always, they showed good sportsmanship and had a lot of fun while playing.”

In all, the tournament had 21 teams participating, and there also were 18 athletes who did the skills competition.

Five-on-five games were played at the middle school, while three-on-three games and the skills competition were next door at the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour.

County programs represented were Jackson, Johnson, Bartholomew-Brown-Jennings, Clark-Floyd, Harrison, Decatur, Washington and Shelby.

In three-on-three action, Jackson County’s Hurricanes and Tsunamis won their first games to advance to the championship in their divisions.

The Hurricanes eased by the BBJ Great Dames 20-4 with Amanda Hamm leading the way with 10 points, followed by Averie Brennan with six and Nevaeh Ackeret and Alysha Sandlin with two each. Then in the championship, they were edged by the Decatur County Cubs 20-16. Ackeret and Brennan each scored six, and Sandlin had four points.

The Tsunamis defeated the Harrison County Ramblers 20-16 in their first game with Dale Hickman scoring all 20 points. In the championship, the BBJ Wild Warriors pulled out a 20-14 victory. Hickman led with eight points, while Donald Bennethum, Elijah Noble and Eric Jackson each had two.

The Jackson County Cyclones also were in action Saturday. They lost their first game against the Decatur County Pacers 20-10. Montana Casto led with six points, and Kayla Kriete and Cheroki Isgrigg each scored two. In the consolation game, they weren’t able to score in a loss to the Harrison County Warriors.

Participating in skills for Jackson County on Saturday were Becky Klosterman and Owen Law.