Wheelchair basketball team returns from Illinois with no wins

Category:  Sports
Thursday, February 14th, 2019 at 8:43 AM
Wheelchair basketball team returns from Illinois with no wins by Erica Burkholder
Photo: Erica Burkholder

Edinboro’s wheelchair basketball team went winless in a recent tournament at the University of Illinois. 

The Fighting Scots played their first tourney game on Friday against the University of Missouri. Both teams exchanged baskets early in the game until the Tigers went on a 8-0 run. After another exchange of baskets, the Tigers put up four straight to end the first half in the lead, 34-21. 

Edinboro opened the scoring in the second when Kevin Atherley converted both of his free throws. ‘Boro would actually pull within one before Missouri upped their lead back to 10. A Jacob Spillers basket would bring the lead down to eight, but the Fighting Scots were unable to get closer. The game ended at 61-48 in favor of the Tigers. 

Alabama opened the scoring in ‘Boro’s second game, but Edinboro held the lead until halfway through the first half. The game would be tied at 23 and then 25 by the end of the first. 

The Fighting Scots opened the scoring in the second and exchanged baskets, but Alabama pulled ahead by 10 with a little less than two minutes left. ‘Boro scored seven points in the next two minutes, but fell 55-47.

Atherley said he was happy to see how involved the team remained despite their struggles.

“I love the energy, trust, intensity and communication that was brought out by my teammates,” he said. “Everyone were involved during the entire game, even when we were down. We didn’t stop fighting until that game clock hit zero. That is the level of intensity we will need to bring into our next games.”

‘Boro’s second game against Missouri was closer than their first. The Scots jumped out to a lead, but lost it around halfway through the first. They kept the game within five, until the Tigers scored the last basket of the half to lead, 23-16. 

Seamus McNally opened the scoring for ‘Boro in the second half. ‘Boro would chase down an 11-point lead, tying the game at 47-47 with 90 seconds left. The Tigers would win those 90 seconds, though, winning 52-49. 

“I think we did great as a unit and reached our goal, which will prepare us for the next step,” Atherley said of his team’s performance in the tournament. “Our goal this weekend was to go out there and focus on the fundamentals of the game and learn to play as a team.

He continued: “We need to work on closing out games and consistency. I think we finally started trusting each other on the court, which is a big part of any sport, but we need to focus a little more on crossing over that final hurdle and finish strong.” 

The Fighting Scots return home to play in the Boro Intercollegiate Tournament Feb. 22-23 and Atherley said he’s excited about it. 

“I’m excited for our home games,” he said. “We get to show our friends and families all we’ve been working on all year long. It’s the games we cherish the most. The support of our loved ones and the university, [that] is the extra motivation we need to play harder. Our upcoming games will be worth the watch. I hope everyone can make it out and support us as we defend our home court.”

Erica Burkholder | sports.spectator@gmail.com

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