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Lion basketball brings compassion to the court

Lion basketball didn’t play a lick of defense down the stretch of its opener in the Highland Park Tournament two weeks ago, and Ennis coach Robert Chaney couldn’t be happier about it.
Ennis was facing the Highland Park Scots in the contest when an HP assistant coach approached Lion assistant Jerry Mason at halftime. Mason learned that senior student manager Patrick O’Boyle, also known as “Patty,” was going to see some playing time late in the ballgame. Patty has Downs Syndrome and he’d never played in a high school game up to that point.
With about two minutes left on the clock, one of the Scot players pretended he was injured and Chaney knew exactly what was going on.
“They put in Patty, so I called a timeout,” Chaney said.
“We told our players to let him score. When Patty got the ball, our kids backed away from him and let him shoot. Everybody in the gym was hoping the ball would go in for him and nobody cared what the score was or who was winning.”
Patty shot several three-pointers that wouldn’t fall for him, but he was thrilled to be in the ballgame. Chaney told one of the HP coaches after the game he would’ve had one of his Lions foul Patty so he could shoot some free throws if he’d thought about it at the time.
“My hat’s off to our players for being mature about that situation,” Chaney said.
“Our players shook Patty’s hand and gave him a hug after the game.”
It was quite obvious how special the moment was for everyone associated with Highland Park judging by the content of a letter sent to EHS principal David Averett from Highland Park ISD president Jeffrey Barnes:
“What I saw from your coaches and players is something that you should be very proud of. Having [Patty] play for a short amount of time was fun, but how your coaches and players from Ennis High School helped make the situation more special is something I will never forget. They continued to play the game, but let this young man enjoy his time on the court with complete class and respect.
“There was never a moment of pity, just competitive fun between the two teams and the young man from HP who had his chance to be on the floor and play. I wanted you to know that Ennis High School has a lot of new fans from Highland Park, and your basketball coach, Mr. Robert Chaney, should be very proud of how he showed everyone attending the game the meaning of sportsmanship. Good luck to the team the rest of the season and thanks again to your basketball program for making this such a special night at Highland Park.”
Chaney said Patty’s father thanked him to no end after the ballgame, but the coach is quick to point out Mason and the Lion players also had plenty of reason to feel good. The praise has continued to pour in from the HP community and Chaney considers it a blessing his team was part of that special athletic moment.
“Everyone from HP has been killing us with kindness,” Chaney said.
“I’ve gotten letters from high school students, the president of the school board at HP and the head coach [David Piehler]. When people from HP see me or Coach Mason, they are very thankful to us for letting such a special young man as Patty get an opportunity to play, which he’s always wanted to do.”
Chaney doesn’t want his players to make a habit of it, yet for once letting their guard down on the basketball court was not only acceptable – it was remarkable.

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Posted by on Nov 29 2007. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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