Upshur County hosts regional basketball tournament for Special Olympians

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Special Olympics not only hosted a regional basketball tournament Sunday but performed strongly, earning gold and silver medals.

Charliena Eubank, director of UCSO, said the tournament went well, with 12 teams representing eight counties.

The tournament took place in the John D. Rockefeller Center main and auxiliary gymnasiums at West Virginia Wesleyan College and drew support from the college’s sports teams and Greek life organizations.

“I really appreciate all of the Wesleyan students who came out to support us, and not only that, but they all seemed to have a great time,” Eubank said. “We used Wesleyan volunteers for scorekeepers, time keepers and referees.”

Upshur 1’s team, coached by Susan O’Dell-Harman and assisted by Richie Riggleman, played against Mineral County and Barbour County to win the gold medal.

Upshur 2, coached by Dion Wamsley and assistant Joe Warner  played the Monongalia County Blue Devils, Harrison County and Monongalia County Sharks en route to their silver medal.

There were four divisions at the tournament based on skill level, and at the state tournament teams will be placed in one of six divisions.

“Special Olympics West Virginia requires all teams to participate in one regional tournament before they come to states so that it is easier to place them in a division when they get to state competition,” Eubank said.

“We’ve been doing some kind of competition the last four or five years, but now they are requiring everyone to do it.”

This year, there were regional competitions in Morgantown, Charleston and Buckhannon, and Eubank said the Upshur County tournament attracted many teams because of it’s central location.

Kendra Wallace is director of sports and training for Special Olympics West Virginia.

“We are having our northern regional tournament where a bunch of our northern regions get together and play so we can get some extra games in before our big tournament in March,” Wallace said.

“I think they enjoy it,” she said of the Special Olympians. “They get to socialize, play some extra games they normally don’t get to and see friends from other teams.”

Eubank said Upshur County Special Olympics has been excited since learning in November they would host the regional tournament.

“We are hoping to get to host next year,” she said.

The Buckhannon Fire Department also had a concession stand at the event.

Next up, the basketball teams, cheerleading squad and basketball skills players will compete in the state tournament March 11-12 in Morgantown.

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