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Twelve-year-old scores a pair of baskets in high school hoops debut
Don’t tell Seven Rushton he can’t do something because, inevitably, he’ll prove his doubters wrong.
A Grade 7 student at the Oxford Regional Education Centre, Rushton has developed a love of basketball and he hasn’t let the fact he has Down syndrome slow him down.
Recently, near the end of a tournament game against the Springhill High Golden Eagles in Tatamagouche, Rushton took his talents onto the basketball court, scoring a basket near the end of the game.
His father has never doubted him.
“There’s no hold-backs in life unless you let it,” Mervil said. “Seven does good. He’s not very verbal, but he’s a hands-on kid. He has his own snowmobile and is always working around the trucks.”
His coach, Mike Hudson, said Seven loves basketball and has attended every game and practise with the Golden Bears, but he could never be coaxed into playing in a real game. That was until the final game of the tournament in Tatamagouche when his teammates convinced him to go on the court.
“We’d been trying to get him in all year because he’s pretty shy, but once we got later into the game his brother, Riley, and some of the other players came to me and asked me to put him into the game,” Hudson said. “They said they would pump him up and get him ready, so when the fourth quarter came along I asked him if he wanted to go in and he said ‘yup.'”
Hudson told the officials and Springhill coach Rushton could be going into the game and when he did he couldn’t get over the sportsmanship shown by Springhill players and his own teammates.
“They were great about it,” Hudson said. “We have a great group of players, including Seven, in everything we do as a team and the other team was phenomenal as well. There’s a bit of a rivalry with Springhill, there always has been, but there is a common ground when it comes to Seven. They actually wanted him to play on their team because they were short-staffed, but he was loyal to us and rocked the Oxford colours.”
Great game thanks to allPosted by Mervil Rushton on Saturday, February 15, 2020
Seven, Hudson said, is like any other player going into his first game. He was nervous and hesitant at first but took advantage of his opportunity to make the most of it.
It didn’t take long for Rushton to get on the scoreboard either. With the help of his teammates, he was shown where to go on the court and was passed the ball near the free-throw line and buried his first shot.
The Springhill defenders stood back and let him shoot and several were quick to congratulate him as he was mobbed by his teammates.
“He drained it clean. I joked that some of our boys better watch it because he could outshoot them,” Hudson said. “To see him on the floor was awesome. I’ve seen him shoot and he’s pretty good. He spends a lot of time at it at school, but to see him play, and score, was pretty special.”
For Seven it was special because his teammates included him all season and made him feel like part of the school community.
“It also meant a lot because his teammates pushed it to happen and they wanted it. It says a lot about their character,” Hudson said. “That’s one of the nice things about sports. Yes, it’s competitive, but none of us are going to the NBA. It’s nice to be part of an experience like this.”
Seven's father, who was videotaping it on his phone, was so excited with the basket his video actually missed the ball going into the hoop.
“I have to say thanks for Seven to everyone involved, the Springhill coach Michelle Doucette and the players, our players, the referees. It’s something I’ll never forget and something Seven will always remember,” Mervil said. “It was great to see the team really encourage him. From there, it snowballed. It was pretty special. The boys treat him as one of them.”
Mervil said sports is a big part of the family, adding when they remodelled their kitchen at home they tore out a centre island so the boys could play things like basketball and hockey. Seven, he said, picked up the game from his older brother several years ago and decided he wanted to play.
Seven’s brother was happy to share the court with him.
“It was great to see him out there,” said Riley, a Grade 10 student. “We play basketball quite a bit at home. He’s pretty good.”
Team co-captain Hayden Clark said it was special to be part of Seven’s debut.
“It was awesome, it gave me a great feeling,” he said. “He’s always been on the bench with us. It was great to get him to play.”
Co-captain Isaac Wood said Seven is like any other member of the team.
“He practises with us and he’s always shooting baskets,” Wood said. “It was hard to convince him at first but we finally got him to play and it was so great when he scored. We all went nuts we were so happy for him.”
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