The Emerald Ridge Jaguars came through during their first Pack the Gym Special Olympics basketball game.
The Jaguars beat Puyallup 50-46 in front of a raucous crowd on Thursday night at Emerald Ridge High School.
“It was a great night,” Emerald Ridge coach Crystal Harrison said. “To have the community surrounding us was just a fabulous feeling to feel that kind of support and love.”
Cody Ruscheinsky hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 20 seconds left that resulted in a large roar from the Jaguars’ student section. He was the team’s leading scorer in the contest.
“Cody is a phenomenal athlete who has worked hard in practice the whole time,” Harrison said. “He was able to show off his skills tonight. I’m very proud of Cody.”
Ruscheinsky said he’s played basketball for the past seven years.
“My favorite things to do are shooting and rebounding,” he said.
Despite the close defeat, Puyallup’s Kevin Short said he had great time.
“The loss is just the way it goes,” he said. “We played our very best. I have been playing basketball for a while. It’s my favorite sport. I was impressed with the four baskets that I got.”
Harrison said Emerald Ridge has improved immensely since the team began to practice earlier this year.
“At first, we were looking to see what everybody’s strengths and weaknesses were,” she said. “One of our players wasn’t interested in running at all, and now he likes to run laps because he has the peer partners running with him.
“We just have seen so many athletes continue to improve over the course of the season,” she added. “It’s really exciting.”
Sports reporter Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.