The first thing you notice is the smell of burning. Flesh on rubber, palms gripping the wheelchair wheels and the friction ignites the skin. The black residue joins the blisters and the joint-ache, the fruits of three grueling full-court wheelchair basketball games. But when victory awaits on the other side of the brutality–then it’s all worth it.
That was the case for the Crotched Mountain Eagles, the staff-powered team representing Crotched Mountain School at the annual Hoops on Wheels Tournament, sponsored by Granite State Independent Living. The tournament–a fundraiser for GSIL–happened on May 13 in Concord and the Eagles, champions from last year, entered play as the number one seed.
The first game started off slow, as the Eagles, incorporating some new players into their ranks, took time to gel. Missed shots, turnovers, and poor defense led to an 8-point deficit. But the D tightened up and the Eagles unleashed their fearsome full-court press and after taking game 1, they steamrolled the last two teams to secure their second consecutive championship.
“It was all about that sticky D,” said Brian Alejandro, a Crotched Mountain therapist and the de facto captain of the Eagles. “Once we started pressing, teams just didn’t really have a chance.”
When all was said and done, Brian and his team were champs again, bringing back the Hoops on Wheels trophy back to Crotched Mountain School’s Trophy Case–a testament to their competitive tenacity and ragged epidermis.