Norris Titan Special Olympians earn silver at State Basketball Tournament

By The Voice News - April 20, 2017

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Taryn Bentzinger, Austin TenHulzen, Christopher Spohn, and BJ Gould display their well earned silver medals with coaches Mark Starr and Larry Crippen.


VOICE NEWS REGION – The Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament was held on Saturday, April 1 at Lincoln North Star High School. The Norris Titans’ Skills Team and two 3-on-3 teams performed well, with all taking home silver medals.


The 3-on-3 Titan Blue Team (coached by Evan Flamme and assisted by Caleb Crippen), which was comprised of Hannah Hopkins, Zaden TenHulzen, Ben Phillips and Kira Amos, had three teams in their division. The first game, against the Madonna Blue team, ended in a 10-6 victory for Norris. Zaden TenHulzen led in points (8), as well as rebounds and steals. Hannah and Ben tied in assist contributions. The next game, against the West Point Jr. Cadets, was another well-matched competition that ended with a 16-18 victory for West Point. Zaden TenHulzen was again the high scorer (10) and led in rebounds, assists and steals as well.  The efforts that won them the silver medal were remarkable for this newly formed team.


The 3-on-3 Titan Red Team (coached by Mark Starr and assisted by Larry Crippen), which was comprised of B.J. Gould, Christopher Spohn, Taryn Bentzinger and Austin TenHulzen, competed in a division of four teams. Their first game, against the Southwest Silverhawks, ended in a Titan triumph of 38-17.  Christopher dominated the court, contributing a career high of 20 points, tying with B.J. for most rebounds, and tying with Taryn for most steals. Taryn was a leading contributor of assists. Their next game was against the Villa Marie Eagles. The game became an epic competition, ending only after triple overtime, and with B.J. experiencing deja vu when injuring his hand in the final minutes of the game like the last state competition. The winning score came at the buzzer and found the Eagles up on top with a final score of 32-30. Once again Christopher’s shots were impressive, contributing another 20 points. B.J. led in rebounds, and Taryn’s contribution had her leading in assists and steals.  The win and loss had the Titan Red team bringing home the silver medal.


The Titan Skills Team (coached by Debbie Crippen), consisting of Aaron Drury, Jacob Zinnecker, Ethan Echternkamp, Cyle Niemeyer, Kelsi Prange, Aubrey Wagner and Paige Higgins, had three teams in their division. Their first game was against the North Platte Bear Cubs. At the end of the first half, Norris was behind 49-44.  Cyle and Paige tied in high scoring honors. In the second half, Norris was once again outscored by North Platte to suffer a 98-86 loss. The high scoring contributor was once again Paige. Their next opponent was Hastings Alumni.  The first half ended with the Titans being on top 43-38, with Aaron taking high scoring honors. In the second half, the Hastings Alumni intensified their play to come within one point of the Titans, but the Titans retained their lead to create an 87-86 victory. Ethan and Cyle shared high scoring honors and the efforts of the whole team won the Titan Skills Team a silver medal. North Platte took home the gold and Hastings Alumni the bronze. Coach Debbie Crippen stated, “I think this was our best season ever as each time we had perfect rounds of passing and catching, we also made our shots. This earned us a record of six bonus points!


“It was also a bonus to have the Norris cheer squad come to lead the crowd of Norris fans in supporting our teams through each competition!”





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