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WCCS hosts Cahaba special olympics basketball tournament

The annual Cahaba Center Special Olympics basketball tournament tipped off at Wallace Community College Selma on Friday morning. Teams from Montgomery, Dothan and Elmore County joined the two teams from Selma to compete in the games.

“This is our annual basketball tournament. We have five teams. We have Cahaba Center DD, Cahaba Place, McGinnis, Montgomery therapeutic and Ellmore ARC,” coach Tracy Vaughn said. “This is what our players look forward to. They practice every Tuesday. They already think they are superstars, so I let them be superstars.”

The tournament got off to an exciting start as the first game between Cahaba Center DD and the Cahaba Annex team went to double overtime. The Cahaba Annex team won 36-31.

The players came out filled with energy and excitement to show off their skills. They were making 3-pointers, running fast breaks and celebrating clutch shots.

“This is a big event for the mental health agencies in our area because they look forward to the competition with basketball,” Annex coach Jeffrey Robinson said. “It’s about getting the guys together and encouraging them to come out and represent the Cahaba Center as a whole.”

The players love playing basketball and have been practicing for weeks to prepare for the games. The teams from the local Cahaba centers practice each Tuesday at the YMCA of Selma-Dallas County.

“Our teams practice a lot for basketball. They love basketball season,” Cahaba Mental Health Center executive director Carrie Bearden said. “They get really excited about their tournament in Selma because this is the ones their friends get to come and see them play. We really enjoy having a big crowd.”

The basketball teams drew a big crowd to the WCCS gymnasium. Family, friends and volunteers came to support the players. Twenty-five students from Cathedral Christian Academy volunteered as referees, scorekeepers and as cheerful spectators in the stands.

“They contacted us to come in and we were excited to give our kids an opportunity to give back to our community and come out and cheer them on,” Roxanne Jones from the Cathedral Academy said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a great atmosphere.”

During game breaks, players and fans danced together in the stands and on the court.

During halftime of the second game, a group of people did “The Wobble” together to pass the time.

“It was really fun. I like cheering them on,” Cathedral Chrisitan Academy student Kaylee Bell said. “I was really excited to come because I love to watch them. They are so amazing.”

Not only is basketball just a fun game for the men and women of the Cahaba Center, but it also provides a way for them to be active and add balance to their day.

“It’s good to be a part of a team. They get to see that they need each other and support each other as a team,” therapist Betty McDowell said. “The exercise is good for their physical fitness and to help them keep balance. It keeps their energy going in a healthy environment.”

They players had a great time competing and socializing with each other at the basketball tournament. Win or lose, it was a special day for everyone in the gym.

“We look forward to it every year,” Annex coach Larry Nalles said. “We have great community support.”