'Special moment': B.C. teen with Down syndrome scores buzzer-beating basket
TORONTO -- A B.C. teen with Down syndrome says he “felt awesome” after sinking a buzzer-beating three-pointer that went viral online.
In an interview with CTV News Channel, 18-year-old Reid Demelo and Port Moody high school basketball coach Greg Schellenberg recounted the exciting moment.
“All of a sudden, two minutes left in the game and the crowd starts chanting in unison ‘We want Reid! We want Reid!’” recalled Schellenberg, who said Demelo is in the gym practising “all the time.”
“I looked down the bench and there he is, he’s sitting right there, he’s ready to go in. One of the guys grabbed his jersey and hands it off to Reid.”
In clips posted online, a teammate on the Heritage Woods Secondary basketball team Kodiaks is seen passing the ball to Demelo in the final seconds of a game against Kitsilano Secondary. Demelo, a Grade 12 student, takes his shot from the three-point line and it goes in just as the buzzer sounds to end the game. Demelo and his teammates -- plus fans who rushed the court -- then run around and cheer in celebration.
“It was pandemonium in the gym,” said coach Schellenberg. “Trying to keep it together was difficult … It was a special moment. I thought they were going to blow the roof off the gym. It was just incredible to see.”
Video from the game has spurred a wave of approval for the school’s spirit and inclusion. “Everyone has the opportunity to live their potential when we #ChooseToInclude! Go Reid!” wrote the Special Olympics Canada account on Instagram.
School principal Todd Clerkson wrote on Twitter that, while Down syndrome is part of the story, it has little to do with Reid’s popularity on the court.
“I have to say that isn’t the reason the kids were so pumped for him,” he wrote. “It is because they love him for who he is! Period.”
Coach Schellenberg echoed that sentiment on CTV News Channel. “He’s always been a part of the basketball team at Heritage Woods. He’s buddies with all of the guys on the team. Everybody loves him,” he said. “We’ve got an unbelievable community at Heritage Woods.”