By Nicholas De Pinho and Cody Darr

CHICOPEE – Chicopee High School’s first game in their co-ed unified basketball season went off without a hitch this past Wednesday, November 6.  With each team being comprised of special needs students and local Best Buddies members, spectators had front row seats to not only a great game, but a grand display of sportsmanship and companionship in a friendly matchup to kick off an exciting season. 

Last year being Chicopee High’s inaugural season in the growing league helped to prepare the Pacers team for the challenges this season would bring. After more than doubling their player count this season, the semi-new team spent a week in prep for their matchup against Palmer. Something that was displayed by all of our players when game time came knocking.

The sound of cheering onlookers from both crowds, jittering in the stands filled the gym as the game played out like a rubber band flinging back and forth in a slingshot of baskets from both teams.The score margin remained slim with neither team surpassing a lead any higher than five points for most of the first half.

The first half of play concluded with Chicopee in the lead 24-20, followed by a tremendous cheer routine and flag performance by Palmers’ cheerleaders, who made it out to the game not only to support their team but to support Chicopee High’s Pacers as well. Throughout the game, patrons and players alike heard cheerleading chants for both Palmer and Chicopee High in a showing of respect and kindness to our athletes.

The nail-biting second half of the game commenced with back and forth court domination from both teams with Palmer slowly creeping up on the scoreboard, at one point nearly holding a 10 point lead over Chicopee.

Palmer’s lead was short-lived as Chicopee rallied back and returned the game to its previous back-and-forth, tennis-like speed. The timer had ticked down to the final minute of play and Chicopee sat at a one point score deficit at 44-45.

In the final 20 seconds of play, the Pacers would score one point and tie up the score before Palmer would come back to score one more time in the last ten seconds, barely pulling ahead of Chicopee following the game’s score-hungry rhythm, ultimately winning them the game.  

With an excitingly close matchup concluding in a 46-45 win for Palmer High School, everyone, spectators and players alike, could leave the gym satisfied knowing that both teams displayed an equally impressive level of skill and sportsmanship. Chicopee will go on to face Mt. Greylock next Wednesday November 13, hoping to replicate the success of their season opener and augment the intensity of play for a win in the upcoming matchup.