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Yuma High wins district’s first-ever Unified Basketball tournament

YHS unified basketball team Yuma High School held the first-ever Yuma Union High School District Unified Basketball tournament on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 in the Palace Gym. 

Cibola, Gila Ridge, San Luis, and Yuma all fielded teams in the 4-on-4 tournament that included peer mentors partnering with students from Unified Physical Education classes.

Yuma High’s team went undefeated in round-robin play before defeating Gila Ridge in the gold medal game. The Hawks took home a silver medal, while San Luis and Cibola won bronze medals. Additionally, all student participants were awarded trophies.

“This was an awesome event,” said Yuma High baseball coach Nick Johnson, who assisted as a master of ceremonies. “This allows the realm of athletics to go past what we usually see in athletic programs and highlight an amazing partnership between Special Olympics and YUHSD.”

The tournament was facilitated by YHS Unified Sports Coach Liz Huyck with a goal of developing a basketball team that can compete in Arizona Interscholastic Association’s (AIA) Unified Sports. In an effort to build interest in the community and Yuma High, Huyck decided to host the event and said she hopes to make the tournament an annual occurrence. Special Olympics Arizona and the AIA were on-hand.

“My favorite part is seeing the camaraderie with the athletes and their peer mentors,” Huyck said.

The tournament included support from a wide-range of students on the Yuma High campus: a rendition of the National Anthem was performed by Jesus Pulido, a member of the Yuma High Choir; Yuma High basketball players Jacob Straub, Kevin Hernandez, Julian Goldsborough, and Xavier Martinez served as officials; the Yuma High dance performed prior to the final game; and YHS Student Council provided lunch.

After Lunch, each school had a player participate in a free throw contest where the winner, Jordan Hunter, was awarded a free throw trophy. A 3-point contest followed, where the winner, Mario Arroyo, also received a trophy.

Eric Patten