Tillsonburg Special Olympics' D basketball team gave it everything they had Saturday at their 10th annual Special Olympics Basketball Tournament.
What they didn't have was height to match St. Thomas, who defeated Tillsonburg 16-10 to advance to the D Final. Tillsonburg also had a D Rec team in the 10-team tourney.
"Just have to figure out a way to stretch some of our guys," joked Tillsonburg coach Doug Cooper, who said he was happy with the D team's effort, especially in the last game against a very strong St. Thomas team – a team that has been winning big all season.
"They (Tillsonburg) went into that game thinking they weren't going to do very well," said Cooper. "We had them on the ropes for a while.
"I just told them 'If you believe in yourselves, you can accomplish anything. I believe in you guys, just go out there and play your best."
Tillsonburg scored first, St. Thomas missed some layups, and the home team was in good shape going into the second half. But St. Thomas rallied scoring 3-4 late baskets to pull away.
One of the originals, Cooper has been coaching all 10 years of the tourney.
"I'm the old guy," he smiled.
"Laverne Sinden and Bill Towers, they put a lot of work into this tournament and they have been since Day 1. They get all the sponors, they get all the referees, they put this all this together. And once this one's over, they start working on the next one."
Special Olympics – Tillsonburg also has several original tournament players on the D and DD teams, including Tim Soltis, Matt MacNeil, Tyler Allison, Corey Mulholland, and Kara Jones.
"Tyler's been here the longest," said Mulholland.
They also have a set of younger players – the next generation is here.
"Building for the future," Cooper nodded.