The North Star

Wednesday’s Special Olympics Basketball game positive and fun

Gus+Rue%2C+20%2C+goes+up+for+a+three-pointer+in+the+second+half+of+the+game+against+the+Eagles.
Gus Rue, 20, goes up for a three-pointer in the second half of the game against the Eagles.

Gus Rue, 20, goes up for a three-pointer in the second half of the game against the Eagles.

Sophie Bruce

Sophie Bruce

Gus Rue, 20, goes up for a three-pointer in the second half of the game against the Eagles.

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Before the matchup this weekend that features both District 203 High Schools in a monstrous DVC battle, the two schools played a game on the same team. Naperville Central and Naperville North students represented Team 203 in the annual Special Olympics basketball game Wednesday night at Naperville North.

The Eagles of Team 204 were victorious, but the score was rendered meaningless by the players, coaches, and fans. The opportunity to play on the big stage loomed large on the minds of the players.

“This game is my favorite,” Naperville Central senior Advaith Kumar said. “I am glad I played again this year.”

During the contest, the home crowd erupted when Team 203 member Brandon Gray nailed a pair of three-point field goals on consecutive possessions. This was followed up immediately by a deep three-pointer from teammate Louis Pisani.

“My teammates gave me good passes,” Pisani said. “I hope to play again next year.”

The atmosphere in the gymnasium remained uniquely upbeat throughout the entire night, especially the scene on the court after the game concluded. Kumar echoed the words of Pisani after the game in the midst of the hectic scene full of fans, players, and coaches.

“This game gives us an opportunity that we love,” Kumar said. “This is the happiest time of our lives.”

The game featured a pair of ‘referees’ that both work as teachers at Naperville North. Clinton Hunter, sophomore basketball coach and gym teacher, worked alongside Matthew Hasse, special education teacher and assistant varsity basketball coach. Hasse volunteered for the position, wanting a close involvement with the event.

“It was an opportunity that I could not pass up,” Hasse said.

Special Olympics athletes enjoy participating regardless of the sport, and they consistently provide joy to fans.

“I am glad that I chose to be a part of this experience,” Hasse said. “It really puts the world into perspective.”

Parents and seniors on team District 203 stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.

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