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Archive for Sunday, March 7, 1999

BASKETBALL PLAYERS HIT GOALS

March 7, 1999

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Special Olympians learn that there's more to the game of basketball than winning and losing.

Todd "Leaper" Williams played as hard as he always does on the basketball court Saturday, but when his team lost for the second time in the Special Olympics tournament, he wasn't too disappointed.

Williams, who attends every possible Kansas University men's basketball game, wanted to be able to cheer on the Jayhawks in their game against Kansas State University Saturday afternoon.

"I'm going to head over (to Kansas City) with my brother later," Williams said after the Lawrence Special Olympics team -- the Green Machine -- lost to a Leavenworth County team at the Coffin Sports Complex at Haskell Indian Nations University. Williams was at Kemper Arena later to see the Jayhawks advance to the finals of the Big 12 tournament with their 69-58 win over the Wildcats.

Meanwhile, the games at two HINU gymnasiums continued. More than 120 athletes from 13 teams from Topeka, Lawrence, Ottawa, Olathe, Leavenworth and Kansas City participated in the tournament, which was sponsored by the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department.

Annette Deghand, special populations supervisor for the department, said many of the participants in the program play in leagues in their respective cities. The participants are given framed team photos at the end of the tournament instead of trophies.

Members of the Lawrence Officials Assn. volunteer, along with HINU football players and students.

"I want this to be less competitive and more fun," Deghand said. "We want this to be fun and for them to have a great time, but it also helps them improve their skills. Of course, they're also making some friendships too."

Williams, 45, echoed her sentiments.

"These are just great guys," he said. "It is really fun being with all these great players."

Cole Browne, another member of the Green Machine, said he's been playing basketball for three years.

"It would have been nice to win, but we did a good job today," said Browne, 17. "We remembered to have fun and we had a lot of faith in ourselves."

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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