Buddies Basketball takes first step in journey back to state with 24-23 win

Buddies Basketball takes first step in journey back to state with 24-23 win

Following their state appearance last year, the CG Buddies basketball squad pinpointed high hopes and clear aspirations for this season.

They knew that they had the group to reach state again if they could play a strong brand of basketball, especially with the star of the show leading the way in Tyler Hadzima (number 8, for anyone who will watch him play this season). Their first step on that journey came against Jacobs last Wednesday.

The Special Olympics Basketball program puts teams together based on their skill level, so the teams for the Trojans were split into two, with one being the “Gray” team and the other being the “Blue” team. The teams, along with the players on them, are permanent for the rest of the season. 

One side of Jacobs battled with the “Gray” squad of Cary-Grove, as the Trojans opened up an 18-10 advantage at halftime. 

The final score says it was closer, but CG was truly in control, as their largest lead of the half was in the double digits. 

That pendulum on the Trojans side started to swing in the second half, and we were treated to a nail-biter in the final moments. 

Jacobs was able to take their first lead of the evening in the fourth, jumping out in front 23-22 late. 

Cary-Grove kept their ensuing possession time and time again as missed shots turned into rebounds and that process was repeated. 

That’s some resilience for sure. Even more so when Chris Pearson of the Trojans, wearing number 22 (coincidence?), grabbed the last of the rebounds and knocked down a shot right by the basket to put CG up by a point with 4.9 seconds remaining. 

After a timeout and clock malfunction, the Cary defense had to lock down Jacobs with an even six seconds remaining. 

The final shot went up following a Golden Eagles roll-in and fast pursuit, with the breaths of everyone watching holding. 

The last attempt hit the backboard and bounced to the ground, just a bit away from the basket. 

This final moment sent a wave of elation through the Trojan side of the stands, including yours truly. 

CG sent home the fans satisfied and proud, and it is almost certain that this group has gotten the surge of perseverance they will want to have as the games get harder and have more meaning. 

“I thought we were going to win,” Hadzima said of the neck-and-neck finish.

With no lack of confidence, he also noted the season he thinks his team will be talking about in late March. 

“I think our team’s going to do great. I think our team’s going to go to state,” he said. 

The Trojans’ journey to a second straight state appearance, perhaps even a title, is off to an exciting start, and they now know the steps that have to be taken to become a champion. 

One box is checked, in the “Grit” category. 

Let’s see what other boxes this team can check.