There was nothing really different about the basketball games played at Renton High School over the weekend, other than the fact the players were in wheelchairs.
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association held its Varsity National Championship tournament last weekend at Renton High.
Sixteen teams from around the country made up the tournament field. The National Wheelchair Basketball Assocation’s Junior Division features 69 rostered teams, 40 of which are varsity. There are three different skill levels, prep, junior varsity and varsity.
The game follows the rules of college basketball, with a 35-second shot clock, charging and blocking fouls, and only a couple of small adjustments. Players are allowed one extra second in the key before a penalty is called. The teams are co-ed and players must dribble once every two arm pumps to avoid traveling.
“The game is absolutely parallel to the stand-up game,” said Tami English, the tournament director.
English was excited at how well the event came together and that students were allowed to be in the audience during school hours for the first time. Renton High students filled one side of the stands, while parents and family filled the other side.
Cheerleading teams from Oak Harbor, Bellarmine Prep and other area schools came in for various games to cheer for the teams.
“It’s about bringing a quality event to these kids,” English said. “The city has wrapped around us.”
English works at Northwest Adaptive Sports, a not-for-profit organization in Seattle that works to give physically challenged youth the opportunity to compete in athletic activities.
“It’s good, but we could’ve done better,” said Jared Arambula after leading his Turnstone Flyers (Indiana) to a victory over the Wheelin’ Wizards (Wisconsin). The win secured a third-place finish for the Flyers.
“He did a great job. It was a fitting way to end a career,” said Doug Arambula, Jared’s father.
Arambula will play basketball at the University of Alabama next year. Jared said he is both excited for the new opportunity and nervous to leave the varsity game that he is familiar with.
Seven of the nine colleges with wheelchair basketball programs were in attendance, scouting players for the next level of play.
The Minnesota Jr. Timberwolves and the San Diego Hammer teams played for the championship on Monday, but results weren’t available by deadline.
Adam McFadden can be reached at email@example.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5054.