EAST WENATCHEE, WA – Smiles were aplenty during the first Unified Basketball game of the year between Wenatchee and Eastmont Wednesday night. The grins began when the two teams entered the floor at Eastmont High School through a tunnel of supporting students and fans. The beams grew brighter with every bucket made for both players and onlookers. And the expressions of joy were bursting all over as Eastmont’s Jenny Ramos-Garcia made the game’s last bucket at the buzzer to end the contest in a 64-64 tie.
Eastmont Athletic Director Russ Waterman said during halftime on NCWLIFE that “it’s the only time I can think of where everyone is smiling, no matter which team you’re rooting for. I wish we could have this throughout our school sports. There’s a lot to be learned from watching and cheering for Unified Basketball.”
NCWLIFE Channel will broadcast the game Sunday, January 14th at Noon with Eric Granstrom on the play-by-play. Granstrom, who also serves as the emcee for the Opening Ceremonies for Special Olympics Washington each year, says it’s a great moment to be a part of. “It’s a community feel good. These kids work so hard to be out there and want to perform well for themselves, their families and parents; as well as their schools. You can’t help but smile to watch their faces and the sense of achievement throughout, no matter which school you root for,” said Granstrom.
The game was an incredible back-and-forth battle with 18-ties and 7-lead changes. The game features two, 25-minute halves with a running clock, stopped each 5-minutes to change lineups. Each team consists of five players with three being students with learning or physical disabilities and two “helpers.” Rules are extremely relaxed with helpers making sure players get multiple chances to shoot “their shot” and dribbling is often times “optional.”
Eastmont was led by Erik Card with a game-high 24-points. Kooper Young had 10; Jenny Ramos-Garcia scored 6; Emily Hensley 6; Leo Soto-Gallardo 4; Luis Prado 4; Orlando Anguiano 2; Gaby Ceja 2; Tanner Cornett 2; Andrew Henneigh 2; and Megan Bucholz 2.
Wenatchee was led by the 16-points from Gavin Zufall. Jake Baird had 10; Mason McRae 6; Hayley Walla 8; Mason Brown 6; Chase Allie 4; Payton Keeler 2; Max Hunter 8; Grace VanWell 4; and Christian Cruz 4.