Special Olympics teams shine at bocce tournament

Special Olympics teams shine at bocce tournament

Mountain Lions move into the playoffs

On Feb. 3, the bocce team held a tournament in the field house. The tournament started at 10 a.m., and 10 other teams were invited. Altoona was split into the Altoona White team and the Altoona Maroon team, to ensure there was an even number of teams. Other teams that were split included Penn Cambria (A, B and Alumni) and Bald Eagle Area (A and B). 

My favorite moment from the tournament was during the Pledge of Allegiance before play time began. Everyone was there to support this amazing opportunity for our athletes,” coach Amy Savino said. “There are just no words to truly justify how special that really is. Taking that all in, in a moment’s time, it nearly took my breath away.” 

The gym was split into six courts, and matches were played simultaneously. The first round winners were Altoona White, Southern Huntingdon, Bald Eagle Area B, Penn Cambria B, Central Cambria and Central Martinsburg. 

We technically have two teams, but we practice and compete as one team for our regular season play.  When we compete in tournaments or playoffs, we have to split and play as two,” Savino said. “It’s tough when one team may place higher than the other, especially when the whole concept of Unified Sports is just to have fun.

Each round was 30 minutes and two officials regulated each court. Each team consists of special education students and mentors. The second round winners were Altoona White, Penn Cambria B, Central Cambria, Penn Cambria A, Johnstown and Bald Eagle Area A. Shortly after the second round, there was a break for lunch. All players were provided pizza for lunch. 

My favorite moment from the tournament was Mycah, Connor [Adams] and I just getting the other students to have some fun while playing,” senior Josh Adams said. “Also, just having a laugh at some of the plays that may not have gone our way, but that we thought were pretty funny.” 

Following the short break, three teams competed in a shoot-off for a place in the semi-final round. Bald Eagle Area B, Central Martinsburg and Huntington competed by each player throwing a ball and whoever had the most balls closest to the pallino would win. 

“I loved getting to see the number of teams and all the supporters that the players had in the field house,” senior Mycah Long said. 

After this shoot-off concluded in a tie, the officials decided to have another one. During this shoot-off they had used measurements to choose who had the closest ball. Bald Eagle Area B’s ball was 47.5 inches from the pallino, Central Martinsburg’s was 22 5 ⁄ 8 inches from the pallino and Huntington’s was 29 5 ⁄ 8 inches from the pallino. Central Martinsburg moved on to the final round. 

I assumed we would do well in the tournament. I and the rest of my team were pretty happy with the result,” Adams said. 

Round four’s semi-final match was Altoona White versus Penn Cambria B and Central Cambria versus Central Martinsburg. With Penn Cambria B and Central Martinsburg coming out victorious, both Altoona teams were out of the running for first place. 

In the final 30-minute round, Penn Cambria B went up against Central Martinsburg. A consolation match was also held between Central Cambria and Altoona White. 

My team is ranked first for districts and the other team is ranked fourth. I think this may mean that we will have to play each other, which I hope isn’t the case, but either way a chance to win districts and go to states is great,” Adams said. 

The 2024 bocce tournament ended with a win from Penn Cambria B team. Central Martinsburg took second place, while Altoona White captured third. 

It was a very good feeling to win a medal, and definitely an enjoyable time to see the athletes be able to be successful in something they enjoy,” Long said. 

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