FanFest 2019: Game Coverage

Special Olympics basketball game returns for its fifth year

Junior+Maggie+Campion+encourages+Shue+and+the+rest+of+the+team+during+halftime.+%28photo+by+Maren+Kranking%29
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FanFest 2019: Game Coverage

Junior Maggie Campion encourages Shue and the rest of the team during halftime. (photo by Maren Kranking)

Junior Maggie Campion encourages Shue and the rest of the team during halftime. (photo by Maren Kranking)

Junior Maggie Campion encourages Shue and the rest of the team during halftime. (photo by Maren Kranking)

Junior Maggie Campion encourages Shue and the rest of the team during halftime. (photo by Maren Kranking)

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by Talia Blakemore, Brendan Camp, Zach Anderson and Ella Sangree

On March 23, the McLean Special Olympics basketball team competed against the Lake Braddock White Panthers. With packed bleachers and the cheerleaders, dance team and representatives from D.C. United in attendance, everyone was excited for the game.

Dr. Ellen Reilly made an appearance at the game; coach Mark Thompson said she is always looking for ways to help out the Special Olympics team. She began the game with a short speech, telling her students she missed them and how much she loved the annual event.

As the overhead lights shut off, the wrestling spotlight created an atmosphere similar to that of a championship game. The voice of Rusty Payne announced each player as they ran through a tunnel created by the cheerleaders.

“When they get announced, they run out with these huge smiles,” Thompson said. “You can’t make it up.”

FanFest marks the end of the Special Olympics basketball season, but this is the first time the team got the chance to play on their home court. Center #44 Ben Baker was a force on defense, putting up a strong block on a few of the opposing players. Additionally, players such as seniors Juan Ramirez-Ramirez and Ben Shue pushed through the defense put up by the Lake Braddock White Panthers to score many times, keeping the Highlanders in the game.

At halftime, the dance team—accompanied by Kendall Lyons, Mahnoor Haq and Polina Leonovav—performed a short dance to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” Director of Student Activities Greg Miller also led his classic half court shoot-off, with participants from both teams as well as the audience.

Crowd favorites #12 and #14 from the White Panthers interacted with the crowd, getting them excited to keep watching.

“It’s my favorite event because the crowd cheers for both teams,” school psychologist Beth Werfel said. “It’s a community event.”

As the clock wound down on the 2019 FanFest game, sophomore Abby Criswell made impressive rebounds to make a critical basket. Then, with three seconds left in the game, Maia Williams dribbled the ball up the court. After the ball released from her hand, the buzzer rang. Onlookers watched as the ball flew towards the basket, swishing through the net.

“It’s going to be bittersweet this year because a lot of our team is leaving—they’re going to the Davis Center, so this will be the last time they’re all going to get to play together,” Payne said.

With the end of a great season, the team and crowd emptied out that night with smiles on each and every face.

CHECK OUT THE FANFEST 2019 PHOTO GALLERY:

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  • Post-grad Robbie Bianco puts his hands up for a high-five as he runs during FanFest's player introductions on March 23. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Senior Ben Shue high-fives his coaches at the beginning of the game. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Jacob DeVore, accompanied by his younger brother, heads down the court at the beginning of the game Saturday. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Shue dances during warm-ups before the game. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Senior Connor Carroll greets Shue during warm-ups. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Adrian Guevara takes a shot during warm-ups. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Principal Ellen Reilly speaks to the crowd before the start of the game on March 23. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Guevara runs the team's offense from the top of the key. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Peter Conners and Bianco put their arms around each other while on the bench. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Conners takes a shot at the basket. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • WAT teacher Jessica Berns high-fives sophomore Abby Criswell between quarters. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Isaac Orrell drives the ball down the court. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • John Suringa guards a Lake Braddock player. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Ben Baker dribbles the ball after a rebound. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Conners and Shue perform a handshake as Shue returns from the court. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Coach Mark Thompson celebrates following a 3-point shot by Shue. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Following a 3-point shot, Shue celebrates as he runs back down the court. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Juan Ramirez-Ramirez dribbles the ball back down the court. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Conners dodges defenders while playing offense. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Bianco encourages Conners on the bench during the game. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Polina Leonova receives a hug from one of the referees during a timeout. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Kendall Lyons cheers with the rest of her team on the sidelines. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Mahnoor Haq and varsity dance team member Mason Glembocki run off the court following the halftime dance. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Junior Maggie Campion encourages Shue and the rest of the team during halftime. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Maia Stewart celebrates after scoring her first basket of the game, seconds before the fourth quarter buzzer. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Stewart dribbles down the court. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Criswell takes a shot as Thompson cheers her on from the sidelines. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Marika Bak runs the ball down the court following a rebound. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • A player on Lake Braddock's team rallies with the crowd during the game. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Baker takes a shot from the corner of the court. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Spectators brought signs to encourage players on the team, such as this one supporting Baker. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • Criswell hugs senior Sarah Rice following the game. (photo by Maren Kranking)

  • The team posed for parents and fans with signs made for them. (photo by Maren Kranking)

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