High school basketball

Saddle up: Ponies gallop out of town with unified playoff win over Oceanside

No. 5 Foxcroft Academy rallies from halftime deficit to beat No. 4 host Mariners
By Mark Haskell | Mar 08, 2019
Photo by: Mark Haskell Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Byron Radley.

Rockland — The No. 4 Oceanside Mariners held a two-point halftime lead on Thursday afternoon, March 7, but saw that slim advantage disappear in the second half as the visiting No. 5 Foxcroft Academy Ponies slowly, but surely, galloped to a 63-54 victory in a high school unified basketball playoff game.

The Ponies of Dover-Foxcroft (5-4) led 20-16 after one quarter before the Mariners (5-4) grabbed a 36-34 halftime edge. Foxcroft Academy also led 51-46 after three stanzas.

Watch video and see more photos below.

Unified basketball combines Special Olympics athletes and general student-athletes (partners) in 5-on-5 competition. The sport has been popular in the state for roughly a decade, but the sport became sanctioned by the Maine Principals’ Association at the start of the 2015 season.

The two most crucial components that make the game different from traditional basketball is there can be no more than two partners on the court at any given time with the Special Olympics Athletes, and the partners can account for no more than 25 percent of the team's total points. Teams also are only permitted to play half-court defense.

The sport has flourished the past few seasons. There were 18 teams statewide during the 2015 season. Now, the state’s numbers have swelled to more than 50 teams.

Team members for Oceanside, coached by Joanna Hall and Colleen Rickard, include Joumana Ben Salem, Aidan Bonzagni, Krista Butler, Haley Callahan, Thomas Coombs, Olivia Dougherty, Erica Dyer, Elaina Emerson, Justin Hunt, Ryan Morse, Kaytlyn Pierce, Caleb Powell, Byron Radley, Angel Seiders, Uriah Thongsophaphone, Ryan Warren and Dylan Whitamore. Julia Clough and Sadie Street also coach.

The Mariner spirit squad also includes Julia Bartlett, Lindsey Brooks, Jackie Daggett, Jacqueline Hall, Lainie Hooper, Mattie Hooper, Justin Hunt, Lydia Laslavic, Valerie Lorleberg, Lexie McMahan and Nina Waldron.

Team members for Foxcroft Academy, coached by Arnold Shorey and Tim Smith, include Sawyer McCarty, Chase Paul, Selina Plants, Gabe Williams, Kylie Merritt, Austin Jackson, Dalton Clark, Tyler Kessler, Mary Morin, Carter Merrill, Jared Atkinson, Austin Gill, Amber Merrill, Ethan Curtis and Brandon Cookson.

“Everybody just did their best,” said Rickard. “They were really on with what they were doing and they had a good attitude. There was a lot of good sportsmanship and they did the best that they could.”

For Oceanside in Thursday’s playoff encounter, Morse tallied 14 points; Warren and Radley, 10; and Callahan and Seiders, six; Pierce, four; and Thongsophaphone and Whitamore, two.

For Foxcroft Academy, which next will play at No. 1 Hampden Academy on Tuesday, March 12 at 3:30 p.m. in a semifinal game, Jackson netted 19 points; Cookson, 18; Paul, 12; Gill, six; Kessler and Curtis, three; and Plante and Clark, two. The visitors also connected on four 3-pointers, including two from Cookson and one from Jackson and Curtis.

“Last year we played them,” said Warren of their playoff with the Ponies. “But this year they came in strong and showed us what’s up. They’re pretty strong. I hope they win [their upcoming games].”

The Mariners held a 36-34 halftime lead, but the Ponies stormed out of the gate and tied the game at 42-42.

From there, Foxcroft Academy scored nine of the game's next 11 points on a pair of 3-pointers by Cookson and another by Curtis as the visitors slowly put distance between themselves and the hosts.

But, in unified basketball, the successes are not always measured by wins and losses, but more by the long-lasting friendships made on the court — and ones that carry off the court.

“I’ve played sports all throughout [school],” said Coombs, a first-year helper for Oceanside. “Lacrosse, football, track, wrestling … and this is the most fun sport that I’ve done so far. It’s definitely a good time and I’m glad I did it.”

Coombs said he joined the team after coach Hall reached out to him.

“Our coach teaches gym here, so she asked me about [playing],” he said. “And [then] I made friends with Ryan [Warren] and some of the other athletes. They asked me to do it and I was all in for it.”

“I love it just to play and have fun,” said Warren. “It gets me out of the house and all that so I don’t go home and get bored. But it’s fun to come here and compete and do all that.”

“We try to win,” Coombs said. “And if we don’t, there’s pizza afterwards. We have a good time.”

Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside unified basketball
Oceanside hosts Foxcroft Academy on March 7 in high school unified basketball in Rockland. (Video by: Zack Miller)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Thomas Coombs, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Gabe Williams. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Thomas Coombs, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Gabe Williams. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Byron Radley. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Byron Radley, middle, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Byron Radley, middle, and Ryan Morse, right, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Kaytlyn Pierce, left. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Olivia Dougherty. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Haley Callahan, middle, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Haley Callahan, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Brandon Cookson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Haley Callahan, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Brandon Cookson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Ryan Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Olivia Dougherty, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Austin Gill. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Olivia Dougherty, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Austin Gill. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Olivia Dougherty, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Austin Gill. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Olivia Dougherty, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Austin Gill. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Kaytlyn Pierce. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Kaytlyn Pierce, left, and Byron Radley. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Byron Radley, middle, Ryan Morse, left, and Kaytlyn Pierce, back, as well as Foxcroft Academy's Tyler Kessler, right, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Kaytlyn Pierce, left. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Joumana Ben Salem, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Kylie Merritt. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Joumana Ben Salem. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Ryan Warren, middle, and Angel Seiders, right, along with Foxcroft Academy's Jared Atkinson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Ryan Warren, front, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Krysta Butler, left, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Krysta Butler, left, and Byron Radley, middle, along with Foxcroft Academy's Carter Merrill. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Krysta Butler, left, and Byron Radley, middle, along with Foxcroft Academy's Carter Merrill. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Thomas Coombs, left, and coach Joanna Hall, middle, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Krysta Butler, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Dalton Clark. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. From left, Oceanside's Lydia Laslavic, Ryan Morse, Jackie Hall, Justin Hunt, Mattie Hooper, Nina Waldron and Lanie Hooper. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. From left, Oceanside's Lydia Laslavic, Ryan Morse, Jackie Hall, Justin Hunt, Mattie Hooper, Nina Waldron and Lanie Hooper. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. From left, Oceanside's Dylan Whitamore, Uriah Thongsophaphone, Aiden Bonzagni and Joumana Ben Salem. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Krista Butler, Ryan Morse, Lydia Laslavic and Julia Clough, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Tyler Ward, middle, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Tyler Ward, left, Jackie Hall, middle, and Lanie Hooper, right, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. From left, Angel Seiders, Aiden Bonzagni, Lydia Laslavic, Krista Butler and Tyler Ward, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Krista Butler, left, and Tyler Ward, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Krista Butler, left, and Tyler Ward, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Angel Seiders, Allison Johanson, Dylan Whitamore and Byron Radley, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Michael McGuire, left, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Michael McGuire, left, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Dave Johanson, left, and Ryan Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Dave Johanson, left, and Ryan Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Dave Johanson, left, and Ryan Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Krista Butler, middle, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Uriah Thongsophaphone, left, and Dylan Whitamore. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. Oceanside's Byron Radley, middle, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. From left, Lydia Laslavic, Lanie Hooper, Nina Waldron, Justin Hunt and Dylan Whitamore. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Foxcroft Academy at Oceanside high school unified basketball on March 7 in Rockland. From left, Lydia Laslavic, Lanie Hooper, Nina Waldron, Justin Hunt and Dylan Whitamore. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.