Wheelchair basketball earns more lessons then victories in weekend tournament at Auburn

Category:  Sports
Thursday, January 31st, 2019 at 4:37 PM
Wheelchair basketball earns more lessons then victories in weekend tournament at Auburn by Erica Burkholder
Photo: Erica Burkholder

Edinboro’s wheelchair basketball team traveled to Alabama to participate in the Auburn University Tournament, where they went 1-3.

In their first bout, Edinboro took on the University of Illinois. After Edinboro narrowly led at the end of the first, Illinois scored the first four points of the second, taking the lead before Chayse Wolf and Jacob Spillers would earn it back for Edinboro. 

A 3-pointer by Wolf and a basket by Seamus McNally would then give ‘Boro a six-point lead. The Fighting Illini came back to tie the game and eventually took the lead, but the Scots put up 10 unanswered points to claim the win, 58-48. 

Wolf scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Spillers scored 16 points and accounted for 10 boards.

Sophomore Cor’Rales Dupree praised his teammates’ determination after trailing at various points in the game.

“That was a really tight game,” Dupree said. “We won that game in the last five minutes, I would say. Just for that — our team to not give up, even when we were losing — to still keep fighting and try to win, I really respected my teammates for that.” 

Auburn opened scoring in the Scots’ second game, and while baskets were exchanged and Edinboro led by one at a point, Auburn soon took the lead with about 14 minutes left in the first. Auburn eventually led, 30-17, at the half. 

Dupree opened scoring in the second for ‘Boro, with Spillers quickly putting up another basket for the Scots. Auburn responded with points of their own, but Spillers scored again. There was an exchange of baskets for the rest of the game. Zach Craddock converted a free throw to score the last point, with Auburn still ahead, 52-40. 

Spillers scored 25 points in the effort, with Dupree tallying six rebounds and McNally snagging five of his own. 

While Edinboro’s third game started with back-and-forth scoring, Alabama would then jump out to a 17-point lead with eight minutes left in the first. Spillers and McNally put up eight combined points before the next Alabama basket, but the Fighting Scots trailed 40-22 at the half. 

McNally started the scoring in the second when he converted two free throws. Unfortunately, ‘Boro wouldn’t pull closer than 16 points until a late 3-pointer. Unable to make up the deficit, ‘Boro lost to Alabama, 64-49.

Wolf opened the scoring in ‘Boro’s last game, a rematch against the University of Auburn. The Scots stayed within six points of the Tigers until the final five minutes of the half. Auburn scored 10 points — with Spillers accounting for Edinboro’s three points in that time — to lead at the half, 30-16. 

Wolf opened the second, but ‘Boro would only tally 18 in the half compared to Auburn’s 21. In the end, ‘Boro fell 51-34.

Spillers scored 13 points in the tournament finale. Wolf joined him in the double digits with 10 points and earned a double-double with 10 boards. 

Even though the team lost three of their games, Dupree thought the trip was a learning experience for the squad.

“I feel like it was a blessing to be able to travel with the team to another university and just enjoy time with the guys,” he said. “[Even] though it wasn’t a winning tournament for us — we didn’t have a winning record — it still taught our team a lot.”

He also thought the traveling may have affected the team, but that it’s important they take lessons back with them after the two-day tournament.

“I feel like this is not as bad as it may seem that we lost, because we can learn from this and grow as a team,” he said. “Even though we may not have done as well as we thought we would have, as a player and as a team, we grew from it. We learned a lot from it, and we’ll fix our mistakes for a better tournament in the future.”

The Fighting Scots compete next at a tournament at the University of Illinois, Feb. 8-9.

Erica Burkholder | sports.spectator@gmail.com

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