Mar 31, 2013

Darke County Special Olympics Basketball brings home gold and silver

DARKE COUNTY—Two Darke County Special Olympic Basketball teams competed at the Special Olympics Ohio State Basketball Tournament in Columbus March 22-23 and returned with a first and second place.

Winning the Gold were members of the Dawgs, competing in the Mens Division III (I-V total divisions, age 22 and older). The Slammers, competing in the School-Age Division II (I and II total divisions, age under 22 years) brought home the silver.

“It is just a great year when two of our three teams qualify for the state basketball tournament,” said Cindy Rose, Darke County Special Olympics Director. “I couldn’t be more proud of how we represent Darke County.”

The Dawgs earned their way to the state final four by being the South Sectional Champions. At state, they beat the Tuscarawas Rockets 68-47 in the semi-final game and won the State Championship by beating the Summit Warriors 65-51 with all nine team members scoring. One player, Dan Bruner, was unable to be at the state tournament due to illness. “But without him we wouldn’t have beat our biggest rival, Auglaize County, during the regular season in a barn-burner single overtime game 62-60 on their home court,” said Rose. “He is Dan-Dan the D-Man and 3-Pt Man.”

The Slammers earned their way by being the East Sectional Runner-Up. At state, they beat the Marion Hawks 46-32 in the semi-final game. And after a tough battle, the Slammers lost in the championship game to the Upper Arlington Bears 42-39. “This was a great season for the Slammers to make it back to the state tournament for the second year in a row having also brought home the silver medal last year in School-Age Division II,” stated Rose. “This season was extra special for the Slammers as all year they honored the memory of their fallen teammate, Justice Meade.”

This was the eighth trip to state for the Slammers. The team took home the gold in 2008 and 2010.

This is also the 18th season for Darke County Special Olympics Basketball, with teams playing a regular 10-game season schedule and then entering the state tournament playoffs with sectional and state level competitions. The second adult team and new state champ, the Dawgs, was created this year to accommodate the popularity of the basketball program. This season the Dawgs had 10 players, the Warriors had 15 players and six cheerleaders, and the Slammers had 12 players.

The Warriors also had a great season, earning the title of South Sectional Runner-Up. Competing in the South Sectional in Mens Division IV, they beat the Adams Hawks 51-46 in the semi-final game and lost in the Sectional Championship game to the Hamilton Westside Jets 39-24.

Added Rose, “Having to expand to three teams this year is just a testament to the players, coaches and entire program that our numbers continue to grow. We wouldn’t be able to make these overnight trips without the support and donations from our community. The players that get to make these overnight trips gain so much more than playing basketball games. They get to experience being on a team and sharing that success with each other and their families. As the Director, I am proud to accompany our players as they reap the benefits of all their hard work.”

Those wanting to follow Darke County Special Olympics can “Like” them on Facebook or visit www.darkecountyspecialolympics.shutterfly.com.


Dawgs: (row one, l-r) Bill Brandewie, Toby Winner, Caleb Knick, Nick Meade, Devin Billenstein, Coach Gary Knick; (row two, l-r) Coach Ron Mescher, Jeremy Monnin, Matt Forsythe, Robert Staver, Stewart Spille, Coach Troy Winner. (#10 Dan Bruner-not pictured). 

Slammers: (row one, l-r) JJ Staver, Ryan Burnett, Ashley Mullins, Dan Mathis, Jesse Younker, Casper Younker; (back row, l-r) Kyle Eichelberger, Derrick Hemmelgarn, Travis Emrick, Coach Cindy Rose, Sheyenne Shimp, Anthony Draving, Morgan Shepard. Not Pictured: Coach Krysten Wilson. 

Warriors: (row one, l-r) Linda Henry, Allison Keiser, Crystal Mead, Melissa Anderson, Elizabeth Brewer, Mindi Steed; (row two, l-r) Nicole Hoffman, Matt Strickland, Amanda Cantrell, Corey Wollebeck, Pam Borgerding, Brett Brinley, Ryan Detling, Cheer Coach Laura Henderson; (back row, l-r) Coach Carolyn Warren, Savannah Wilt, Jim Grewe, Nate Wilt, John Stewart, Tyler Greer, Jeff Hartke, Gladys Heath, Craig House, Coach Scott Warren. 

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