The men’s and women’s basketball teams played a scrimmage against the Rochester Wheels, a professional wheelchair basketball team, last Wednesday. The ‘Jackets won 73–71, though they received lots of help to stay in the game.
Wheelchair basketball is an official Paralympic sport. The biggest difference in the rules from Olympic basketball is that there is no double-dribbling, and traveling occurs when a player touches their wheels more than twice between dribbles. The sport is difficult, since shooting from far distances depends completely on upper body strength — only five three-pointers were scored in the entire game.
Because the Wheels are a professional team with a lot more experience in the sport, the ‘Jackets were helped out in several ways. For example, baskets scored by the ‘Jackets counted for double points.
In the first half of the game, the Wheels seemed to help the ‘Jackets, and the ‘Jackets were still adapting to the modified sport. When ‘Jackets players were on offense, Wheels players grabbed rebounds, then passed it back to the player who missed to give them another try. It was an entertaining game, and the ‘Jackets were up 30–21 at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, Women’s Basketball head coach Jim Scheible, who was the referee for the game, told the crowd that the ‘Jackets would start the second half with 65 points, and the Wheels would actually start trying in the second half. The ‘Jackets only managed to score two baskets in the second, while the Wheels scored 50 points.
However, in the final minutes of the game, the ‘Jackets focused on defense and managed to hold the Wheels. With seconds left and down three, the Wheels took a three-point shot, drawing the only foul of the game. The Wheels only made one of the three free throws, allowing the ‘Jackets to win by two.
The game was more fun than competitive. At various times, Scheible literally pushed the ‘Jackets players along to help them reach a loose ball faster. Both teams had some fantastic shots, and some humorous airballs. The teams supported each other and kept the contest lighthearted throughout.
The ‘Jackets face the Wheels annually to help raise money for the Wheels’ expenses, especially their travel, so that they can face other teams. The Rochester Wheels are officially recognized by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association as a Division III team. The team also helps mentor youth with disabilities and adults who want to remain active after an injury or a new medical diagnosis.