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Elk Grove students with special abilities compete in Unified Basketball League championship

Elk Grove students with special needs compete in Unified Basketball League tournament
Elk Grove students with special needs compete in Unified Basketball League tournament 01:57

ELK GROVE — A first-of-its-kind championship basketball tournament was held in Elk Grove.

The high school players have trained hard all season to make Friday night's finals, and they didn't let their physical and mental challenges get in the way of playing a good game.

Hoop after hoop, these athletes showed off their special abilities on the court.

Ari Post, a 10th grader at Franklin High School, was one of the fan favorites.

"I've been balling on my butt out there every single game," Post said.

The Unified Basketball League pairs more than 40 special education students with traditional high school athletes on co-ed teams.

"I get athletes that don't know how to dribble yet, and we teach them and coach them and they get to a point where not only can they dribble but they're driving to the hole," said Laguna Creek coach Ryan Nill. "They're laying it up and they're competing to win games."

Nill said it's important for kids with intellectual disabilities to have a chance to participate in Friday night games just like any other high school athlete.

"We have so many students with all kinds of ability levels that maybe don't get the opportunity to compete, and this does give them that opportunity," Nill said.

The competition can be tough.

"We've had one game where it was at the buzzer that we won and another game we lost at the buzzer," Nill said.

This is the first year that the Elk Grove district has organized these unified games, and they're trying to expand it to other schools and districts in the coming seasons.

"We're just hoping that every year, we just keep adding and then it's going to be awesome," parent Torrell Avery said.

In Friday night's championship game, the Franklin Wildcats beat the Laguna Creek Cardinals to take home this year's winning title.

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