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South Whidbey Wind win state championship
A state championship is coming to South Whidbey.
The South Whidbey Wind, a Special Olympics basketball team, earned the state crown by going undefeated in three games during Saturday’s team- skills competition to win gold medals.
“It just added a little icing to the season,” said Wind head coach Mike Etzell.
Etzell added: “It’s really a wonderful thing to be able to say we’re state champs.”
The Wind defeated the Clark County Rollincats 98-92, the Tri-Cities Bombers 96-94 and the Metro Parks Hoopsters 94-92.
In February, coach Etzell said one player carried the Wind to victory at the regional tournament. The recipe for success was different in Wenatchee.
“It was very much a team effort,” Etzell said.
Wind parent David Bishop, whose son Andrew is the youngest team member, said the team’s ability to pass and catch the ball was the difference. Etzell said the Wind made “just enough shots” to put them ahead of the competition.
“When they finally realized they won, they were just jumping around,” Bishop said.
That energy and excitement spilled onto the dance floor later that evening.
After the games finished Saturday, Special Olympics of Washington hosted a dance for the players, parents, coaches and volunteers. The dance was an eagerly anticipated event for the Wind and the other guests.
“I think they broke a fire code,” Bishop said. “They packed the place.”
Andrew enjoyed dancing the Macarena the most, his dad said.
“For us, it turned into a real victory dance,” Etzell said.
Etzell added: “The athletes are happy, parents are happy. It feels good.”
Bishop said Andrew wore his gold medal to school on Monday after returning from the weekend trip.
“[Andrew] can be successful and get the amount of attention that we all do and the success that we all do,” his dad said. “On a normal day he can’t get that.”
The winter sports season is over for the Wind and Special Olympics of Washington. Etzell said a Special Olympics of Washington official approached him and the team and encouraged them to start a soccer team for spring. South Whidbey had a track-and-field team last year, and expects to have one this spring, too.
“I just don’t doubt at all that this is going to vault this group into new places,” Etzell said.