A last-minute persuasion paid off in a major way at the NWBT
Josie DeHart’s last-minute persuasion paid off in a major way Friday afternoon.
After convincing her coach Justin Obermyer to let her compete in the Per4Max
Shootout at the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament (NWBT) over another teammate, the Denver Junior Rolling Nuggets wheelchair basketball player then netted the title plus a historic first, too.
DeHart, an 18-year-old high school senior, won the Per4Max Shootout, defeating Evan Heller (Achievement Centers for Children Junior Cavaliers) at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., becoming the first female to win the title.
“It was my senior year and I had never done it before and every year I’ve wanted to do it so bad,” says DeHart, who was born with arthrogryposis, or congenital joint contractures, which means some of her joints don’t move much and stuck in one position. “Then he finally was like ‘allright, you can do it,’ and I was like ‘yes’ and I was so happy.”
The Junior Tournament (Varsity, NIT and Prep Divisions) kicked off during Friday’s second day of the NWBT, and with it the Per4Max Shootout also was part of the festivities. Teams could each pick a player to participate in it. Athletes had certain hotspots on the court that where they could shoot from and pick up points for each shot they made from each spot.
With all the boys entering the contest, DeHart admits she didn’t think she was going to win. But coming up with a strategy changed all that.
DeHart had imagined and hoped she’d compete in the shootout for years. Last year, she even formulated a plan – thinking that’d it be easier to start with a free throw and then move back and forth to the two side shots on the left and right corners of the court. DeHart remembered that and put it into attack.
“That’s where I shoot during games, so that’s probably why,” DeHart says.
It also helped she came in already warmed up from a game right before. The No. 19 seed Denver Junior Rolling Nuggets defeated the No. 30 seed UAH Chargers 52-33 in a first-round Junior NIT Division game Friday morning, just 30 minutes earlier.
Besides winning the title, DeHart also gets to pick either a wheelchair basketball chair or an everyday wheelchair from Per4Max and also took home a bag and a T-shirt. The NWBT remains her favorite wheelchair basketball tournament to date.
“I like how many like kids are here, you know? Because every other tournament you don’t get to really see all your friends, but at this one you get to see everyone,” DeHart says. “And it’s really cool catching up with everybody and you get to see everyone all the time throughout the day.”
Next year, DeHart plans on attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and to play wheelchair basketball for the women’s team there. She’s undecided for a major but said she is thinking about Psychology.
JUNIOR TOURNAMENT UPDATE (Friday morning and early afternoon)
In the Varsity Division first round, the seeds stayed to form. The No. 1 seed TIRR Memorial Hermann Junior Hotwheels rolled to a 63-40 victory over the No. 16 Sportable Spokes. The No. 8 seed Peoria Wildcats escaped with a 42-41 win over the No. 9 seed Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets, as Charlotte missed three shots two tie inside the final 25 seconds.
The No. 4 seed WASA Junior Bucks cruised to a 60-31 win over the No. 13 seed Dallas Junior Wheelchair Mavericks. And the No. 5 seed Nebraska Red Dawgs earned a 41-27 victory over No. 12 ParaSport Spokane.
On the bottom half of the bracket, the No. 6 seed Minnesota Junior Timberwolves defeated the No. 11 seed Lakeshore Lakers 65-45, while the No. 3 seed RHI Racers upended the No. 14 seed Seattle Junior Sonics 59-35. The seventh-seeded Utah Rush edged out the No. 10 seed Chicago Skyhawks Varsity 44-40, and the No. 2-seeded BlazeSports Junior Hawks rolled to a 64-34 win over the No. 15 seed Rancho Renegades.
In the Prep Division, the only first-round upset was the No. 9 seed BlazeSports Orange knocking off the No. 8 seed Turnstone Flyers, 28-19.
The other seeds stayed true to form. The No. 1 seed Minnesota Rolling Rowdies dominated in a 41-14 victory over the No. 16 seed Chicago Skyhawks.. The No. 4 seed Lakeshore Sharks held on for a 42-37 win over the No. 13 seed RHI Junior Racers. The No. 5 seed Fairfax Falcons rolled to a 37-18 victory over the No. 12 seed SportAbility Rolling Panthers.
The No. 6 seed OKC Wheels of Thunder defeated the 11th-seeded Synergy Junior Bulls 34-20. The No. 3 seed Charlotte Purple beat the No. 14 seed Cincinnati Dragons 44-12. The No. 7 seed Bennett Blazers earned a 34-25 win over the 10th-seeded NE Red Dawgs. And the No. 2 seed LWSRA Hawks won 28-10 over the No. 15 seed Mary Freed Bed Junior Pacers.
In the Junior NIT Division, there was only one slight upset, with the No. 25 seed Cincinnati Dragons knocking off the No. 24 seed Miami Valley Junior Raptors 55-16.
The No. 17 seed Mary Free Bed Pacers took down the No. 32 seed MS Wildcats 49-26. The No. 20-seeded Synergy Junior Bulls beat the No. 29 seed Katie’s Komets 57-20, while the No. 21 seed SD Hammer defeated the No. 28 seed RHI Racers 38-22.
The No. 22 seed Motor City Wheelz knocked off 27th-seeded ATZ, 49-14. The No. 19 seed Denver Junior Rolling Nugges earned a 52-33 win over the No. 30 seed UAH Chargers. The No. 23 seed ACC Junior Cavaliers defeated the No. 26 seed St. Louis Junior Rolling Rams 40-16. And the No. 18 seed Mad City Badgers defeated the No. 31 seed OKC Wheels of Thunder 36-26.
ADULT DIVISION UPDATE (Friday afternoon semifinals only)
The New York Rollin’ Knicks rolled into the Division I final. The top-seeded Knicks defeated the No. 5 seed MedStar NRH Punishers 66-43 to reach the final and try to retain their title. The No. 3 seed Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks and No. 2 seed Sacramento Rollin’ Kings played later Friday night.
The top seed reached the Adult Division II final.
The top seed NMSCD Wolf Pack defeated the No. 5 seed Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 55-42 in one semifinal, while the other between the No. 14 seed Toronto Rollin’ Raptors and the No. 7 seed Wisconsin Thunder was held late Friday night.
Semifinal games were played later Friday night. The top seed Connecticut Spokebenders took on the No. 5 seed Harrisonburg Cardinals, while the No. 3 seed RHI Pacers took on the No. 7 seed Triangle Thunder.
For more information, visit nwba.org.