Local Special Olympics basketball teams wrap up regular season


SHELBYVILLE — Three of Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County’s basketball teams competed in their final tournament of the regular season Saturday.

In the Arnie Petre Tradition tournament at Shelbyville High School, the men’s three-on-three Jackson County Cyclones were the first ones on the court.

They opened with a 20-16 loss to the ROD Jaguars before dominating the Wayne County Patriots 20-4.

The Cyclones led 12-8 on Elijah Noble’s second basket of the game against the Jaguars and 16-12 on Dale Hickman’s third field goal, but ROD rallied with eight straight points for the win. Hickman and Noble each scored six points, and Billy Allman had the other four points.

In the second game, Allman’s second score broke a 2-2 tie, and the Cyclones didn’t relinquish the lead. Hickman led with 12 points, and Allman tallied eight. After the game, Allman was given a sportsmanship medal.

Next in action was Jackson County’s only individual skills competitor available for the tournament, Becky Klosterman. She participated in shooting, dribbling and passing and earned a ribbon for placing sixth in the age 41 to 50 division.

The three-on-three women’s Jackson County Wildcats opened their day with a strong 20-8 victory over the ROD Lady Hot Rods Too. Averie Brennan broke a 2-2 tie with her second basket, and she went on to finish the game with 14 points. Alysha Sandlin added four points, and Amanda Hamm had two.

An hour after that game started, the Wildcats faced the Decatur County Cheetahs for the third time of the season. This time, they were much more competitive in falling 20-14. Brennan scored 12 points, and Hamm had the other two.

In five-on-five action, the Jackson County Tornadoes eked out an exciting 38-37 win over Vanderburgh County.

The first half ended tied at 21, and the Tornadoes led 28-25 after three quarters. The game remained close in the fourth quarter, and Jackson County held a 28-25 lead on a score by Thomas Emly.

In the final minute, Vanderburgh County led 37-36 and attempted to stall the ball near half-court. With 10 seconds to go, Jackson County’s Todd Smith knocked the ball loose and passed it to teammate Chaz Rothrock, who soared to the basket and made a layup for what proved to be the winning score.

Rothrock led the Tornadoes with 15 points, followed by Josh Beals with eight, including a pair of 3-pointers, A.J. Engel with six, Kemoney Fields with five and Smith and Emly with two apiece.

A couple of hours after tipoff of that game, the Tornadoes battled the higher-level Monroe County Cutters for the second weekend in a row. This time, the game was very low scoring with the Cutters holding a 10-3 lead at halftime.

They remained tough in the second half, outscoring the Tornadoes 12-2 in the third quarter for a 22-5 advantage and going on to win 29-9. The Cutters’ 2-3 zone again was problematic for the Tornadoes.

Emly led Jackson County with five points, and Fields and Engel had two apiece.

The Cyclones (8-2), Tornadoes (6-3), men’s three-on-three Jackson County Hurricanes (3-5) and individual skills athletes will compete in the sectional March 9 at Hauser High School’s fieldhouse in Hope.

The Wildcats (3-6) will play in the state tournament March 23 and 24 at Pacers Athletic Center at Grand Park in Westfield. If the other teams win their divisions and the skills athletes participate in the sectional, they will advance to the state tournament.

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