LIMA, PERU – USA Men capture the gold medal at the 2019 ParaPan American Games with stifling defense.
Team USA came out very hot in the first five minutes of the first quarter. Mikey Paye (Gross Pointe, MI), co-captain of the team, stated the importance of this as someone in a leadership role.
“We knew we had to come out and be really aggressive. It’s important for the captains to come out and lead by example,” he said.
Co-Captains, Paye and Steve Serio (Westbury, NY) contributed 11 of USA’s 18 points in the first quarter. Paye hit three of four from the wings to help establish momentum for the team. USA had crisp ball movement from side to side, which created space for the shooters to get off their shots.
Canada briefly closed the gap, capitalizing on an errant pass and an offensive foul on consecutive plays at the three-minute mark. Overall, Canada faced suffocating defense at the hands of Team USA. This led to an anemic shooting percentage in the opening quarter (4/15), which was a prelude of the ensuing quarters. All credit goes to the Americans for forcing unrelenting pressure on Canada.
USA Head Coach Ron Lykins (Columbia, MO) feels his team played smart against Pat Anderson. “We’ve seen Pat take over games in the past, and if Canada was going to have a strong performance, we wanted to make sure that somebody else beat us. I felt our guys played him with great intensity, but they also played very smart,” he said.
This could be said for both Anderson and Nik Goncin. USA would use frenetic communications and obsessive chair control to limit their scoring to 14 points on 5 of 18 in the first half.
Offensively, the depth of USA would be on full display. Jake Williams (Milwaukee, WI), Matt Scott (Detroit, MI) and Josh Turek (Council Bluffs, IA) would combine for 11 of the team’s 17 points in second quarter, which extended the lead to 35-23 to end the half. Turek lead USA in scoring with 18 total points for the game.
Scott emphasizes his role on the team as someone who brings energy to his play. “I know my role, I’m an energy guy, I want to come in and give the best energy I can and provide some defensive stops. I also want to give the same energy on offense,” he said.
The second half would prove to be much the same. After each team went back and forth for the first three and a half minutes, Anderson would commit his fourth foul of the game, leading to a David Eng substitution. At this point, Turek and Scott would partner on a back-breaking three-and-a-half-minute stretch where USA would rattle off a 17-2 run. It was Nik Goncin of Canada who stopped the run by hitting a two just inside the three-point line. Scott, never one to be outdone, came right back on the next possession and rolled into and hit an exquisite three- pointer.
By this point, the damage had been done and the game was out of reach for Canada. This tournament for Team USA, en route to their third consecutive ParaPan American Gold Medal, was about a team brand of basketball vs. individual excellence. The team ranked in the top two in most team related statistical categories (field goal percentage, assists, rebounds, points against). Conversely, no individual on the squad would make it in the top two of any individual statistical category. Moral of the story: this team was incredibly unselfish, placing team goals above all else.
As for the process moving forward, Scott said: “I will treat this one [Tokyo] like I don’t have another Paralympics left in me. I will be training as hard as I possibly can, and I know we will be holding each other accountable. We will be ready for Tokyo.”
Outcomes like the men’s gold and the women’s silver are not possible without the support of their respective staffs, our Sponsors and the USOPC. We are grateful for the incredible support we have from everyone involved in the process.
LIMA, PERU – Rose Hollermann (Elysian, Minnesota) of the U.S. women's wheelchair basketball team was selected as the U.S. flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony of the Parapan American Games Lima 2019. Hollermann was chosen to receive the honor by fellow Team USA members.
“The Parapan Games have always been really special to me because it's where I started my international career back in 2011,” Hollermann said. “I am filled with pride and honor that I have been granted the responsibility to carry our flag in. There's nothing better than being able to represent my family, team and country.”
While competing in Lima, Hollermann was in the top five of the tournament for points, rebounds and assists. Yet one of the biggest plays for the Parapan silver medalist was off the court. The women’s team hosted a clinic with local athletes on Aug. 25, and Hollermann gifted a local Peruvian athlete her old basketball chair. The recipient was moved to tears when Hollermann surprised her with the gift.
Hollermann made her Paralympic debut in London in 2012 as the youngest member of the women's basketball team at only 15 years old. She went on to become a Paralympic gold medalist in Rio in 2016. She is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington where she played collegiately.
The 2019 Parapan American Games began on Aug. 23 and conclude on Sept. 1 in Lima. The Games included more than 1,890 athletes from 33 nations participating in 17 sports and 18 disciplines. Team USA includes 257 athletes, including six guides and pilots, who have competed in 16 sports.
*Article courtesy of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee
LIMA, PERU – The USA Women were unable to comeback against Canada in the 2019 ParaPan American Games and go home with silver and qualify for Tokyo 2020. Kathleen Dandeneau for Team Canada delivers triple-double to lead Canada to Gold (67-64).
The Friday night match-up was like a heavy weight battle with the two top teams in the tournament who cruised to the final. This battle comprised of 24 women, most of whom have competed in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) and who have been impact players on their Collegiate, Women’s, or Adult Division teams. The USA and Canada programs are examples of what it means to develop a strong pipeline and tonight’s game was a return on that investment.
USA would start the game with a balanced scoring attack with Becca Murray (Germantown, WI) and Lindsay Zurbrugg (Portland, OR) continuing their hot shooting from mid-range. Both of these undefeated teams would go on a series of runs, yet USA maintained their lead in the first quarter to go into the intermission with a five-point lead (16-11).
In the second quarter, Canada created their own momentum with their defense. They disrupted the Americans’ sets by putting pressure on their chairs, especially in the half court. The Canadians forced Team USA out of their range and began contesting their passes more aggressively. When USA was able to get into their set, the ball swings were cleaner, leading to better looks at the basket.
Their two markswomen would lead the squad with 12 each in the first half. For Canada, it was Arinn Young and Dandeneau who would each take a turn assisting the other in the final two minutes of the second quarter. Dandeneau would hit a free throw on an ‘And 1’ to take the lead briefly for Canada. Lindsay Zurbrugg would answer with another 15-footer to close the half, helping USA regain the lead 32-31.
Courtney Ryan (San Diego, CA) carried the bulk of the load for the Americans in the third quarter. While the Canadians were busy sending help to the wings to limit Murray and Zurbrugg’s shots, Ryan was repeatedly left open at the free throw area. Courtney had ice-water in her veins, sinking an impressive five of five from the field and scoring ten of USA’s third quarter points.
Becca Murray commented on how well her teammates stepped up. “We have a lot of different threats. It’s just amazing what we’ve come to accomplish, coming together,” she said. “We’re each used to our own roles with our local teams, but to come together and perform our roles for Team USA, everyone’s done a great job.”
After a third quarter that saw several ties and lead changes, Team USA was up 52-47 going into the fourth. Canada continued their tough defense and had its stars make more big plays down the stretch, including a three-pointer from Arinn ‘Juice’ Young early in the fourth quarter. This would give Canada the momentum, which would later force Head Coach Trooper Johnson (San Lorenzo, CA) to use two timeouts in the last five minutes. Johnson had his team start fouling, putting the Canadians on the free throw line and preserving time on the clock.
This tactic gave the Americans a chance, and it was Zurbrugg that helped keep USA close, converting two free throws after a foul, and then another field goal with under three minutes left in regulation.
Becca Murray and Kathleen Dandeneau would exchange baskets before the Americans’ last opportunity. In transition with under ten seconds on the clock, Canada’s defense extended on USA’s top scorer, Murray. Murray passed the ball to Zurbrugg who rolled into a perfect catch and release three. The ball made a full revolution around the rim before rolling out as the buzzer sounded.
Coach Johnson is proud of Zurbrugg’s effort. “I’m so excited about her potential as a USA basketball player for an extended period of time,” he said. “For her entire team to have the confidence in her that they do, and for her to step up the way she did in this tournament speaks volumes for what she can do down the road.”
Co-Captain, Becca Murray reflected on the team’s progression. “This is a process of meshing our veterans and less experienced players,” she said. “Our main goal was to qualify for Tokyo, and now we can continue to work on gelling further. Even though we didn’t get the result we wanted here, we should be proud of where we are in the process.”
This Women’s Team gave the entire NWBA something to be proud of, and a reason to be excited looking ahead to Tokyo. They displayed grit, hustle and teamwork on behalf of the Association.
LIMA, PERU – USA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team qualifies for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics with a decisive win over Argentina (67-36), as they advance to the Lima 2019 ParaPan American Gold Medal Game.
Team USA started relatively slow in the first quarter only scoring 12 points on six of 15 shooting. Although the team had crisp ball movement and consistent pick and roll opportunities, the ball was not dropping as frequently as it had earlier in the tournament.
A bright spot in the first was Aaron Gouge (Wake Forest, NC) who was proficient with his shots, one on a roll to the basket and two for a 15-foot shot. He scored six points in the quarter and had 11 in the game. “I came out intense and fired up. This was ‘the game.’ If we won, then we were going to Tokyo,” said Gouge.
After the first intermission, USA adjusted and applied more pressure on Argentina. On made baskets, they pressed their opponents full court, while on misses they would set up in the half court. Despite a near capacity crowd, Head Coach Ron Lykins (Columbia, MO) could be heard imploring his team, “Shadow, shadow, shadow!” to stop their movement.
After the game, Coach Lykins said, “We wanted them to play at a faster level than they were comfortable with, and that led to turnovers.” That strategy proved very effective. Argentina committed ten total turnovers on the half. They also struggled to score in the second quarter with only two baskets in the first seven minutes.
It was Josh Turek (Council Bluffs, IA) who found the hot hand in the second quarter for Team USA. He scored nine of his 11 first half points in the second quarter. Turek is known for his prolific scoring, and he showed no preference for where he inflicted his damage from, hitting from either side of the court, the elbows and the wings. He led Team USA in scoring with 18 total points in the game.
Turek said his success was a team effort. “As always, we did it as a team. Everyone chipped in. Today was my moment. Just the way they were playing defense, left a lot of wide-open shots in the middle and in other spots where I take shots. As you see, every single game we have a next man up mentality,” he said.
The third quarter was where Team USA extended the lead, outscoring Argentina 21 to six. Argentina decided to sit multiple starters in the second half, considering USA had the game under control. Argentina’s strategy was to rest their stars, Adolfo Berdun and Gustavo Villafañe, to increase their chances of defeating Colombia on Saturday to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
Team USA will face Canada in the finals. Canada has several members of the New York Rollin’ Knicks on their roster, including Patrick Anderson. Anderson, many argue, is one of the most gifted athletes in the 70-plus year history of the game, but according to Lykins, he will face a deep USA roster.
“We will go anywhere between seven and ten guys that we can use during this game tomorrow. We’ll use everybody we can and use whatever we need to be successful,” Lykins said.
USA and Canada will tip off the 2019 ParaPan American Final at 5:00pm central on Saturday, August 31 from the Villa Deportiva Nacional.
*Photo courtesy of Mark Reis and graphic courtesy of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee
LIMA, PERU – The USA Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games and advance to the finals of the Lima 2019 ParaPan American Games with a dominant performance over Argentina. Lindsey Zurbrugg (Portland, OR) lead all scorers with 16 points.
Becca Murray (Germantown, WI) and Lindsay Zurbrugg opened the game with high proficiency from the outside. The two sharp shooters alternated baskets during the first period for a combined 14 points in the first quarter. “I’m pretty happy with both our performance and my performance. The team really played together today. We swung the ball well, we were very unselfish, we talked together – it was just a great team day,” said Zurbrugg.
The balanced scoring attack from the outside would lead to textbook pick and roll action for the Americans. Argentina had no choice but to jump the shooters on the wings, which would lead to uncontested lay-ups as the Argentine help defense rotated late. With a minute left in the first quarter, Rose Hollermann (Elysian, MN) would pass the ball over the outstretched hand of an Argentina defender, which dropped perfectly into the shooting pocket of a rolling Kaitlyn Eaton (Houston, TX) who scored the basket off the glass.
Hollermann would assist on four of the field goals in the first quarter, as the USA cruised to a 22 to 5 lead to start the game. Hollermann would go on to register a game high of 15 assists. Unfortunately for Argentina, their missed shots would lead to a significant number of fast break opportunities for the Americans. Abby Dunkin (New Braunfels, TX), who played the bulk of the second quarter, would snatch the rebound off of a miss and initiate successive fast breaks for Team USA. Dunkin would complete the game with a double-double, with ten rebounds and ten assists.
Much of USA’s offense was generated by high intensity defense. Though Head Coach Trooper Johnson (San Lorenzo, CA) would intermittently apply a full-court press, he had his team applying significant pressure in the half court. The result, seemingly time and time again, was the Argentine players pushed outside of their range, and consistently shooting contested shots with the shot clock counting down.
When they ended up in the half court, it would be the two-man game that would be a back breaker. Forced to jump Hollermann, who is the second leading scorer in the tournament to date, this would leave Courtney Ryan open. It was in the last minute of play that Ryan rolled free to the basket for two lay-ups, extending the USA lead to 30.
Team USA’s goal was to qualify for Tokyo 2020, but they also have another goal in mind. “Our main goal this year was to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Tonight, we did that, and we also plan to fight to defend our 2015 ParaPan American Gold Medal,” said Johnson.
Team USA will play Canada in the final, who by virtue of making the final, have also qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. According to Johnson, the game is expected to be exciting to watch and the athletes are expecting a tough game.
“I know it’s going to be a tough, physical game. We’ve been preparing for it and if we run our offense, are unselfish and follow our fundamentals, we should be good. It’ll be a great match,” said Zurbrugg.
The women’s gold medal game will tip off at 6:45 pm central and can be viewed at TeamUSA.org
LIMA, PERU – The USA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team wins in quarter-final action at the 2019 ParaPan American Games. Team Captain, Steve Serio (Westbury, NY) logs a game high 22 points and leads Team USA into the semi-final round.
Serio was just two assists shy of a triple-double at the VIDENA (Villa Deportiva Nacional) on the fifth day of competition. In addition to his 22 points, he would snag ten rebounds, eight assists and six steals (all game highs). Serio, a veteran of Team USA since 2006, has developed an innate ability to fluctuate between scorer and facilitator. He’s able to seemingly flip a switch to activate whatever the team needs during any given play.
“There are some games where it’s my opportunity to score and lead the team that way, but there’s also times when it’s time for me to distribute and get other guys involved,” said Serio.
He would take control of the game midway through the second quarter, using his defense (four steals in the first half) to generate offense for Team USA. He would have multiple assists to his teammates and three for three during a two-minute span. After a chase down steal from behind by Trevon Jenifer (Huntingtown, MD), Serio capped this stretch with a picturesque three-pointer, holding his follow-through until the ball rotated through the net.
As impressive Serio’s performance was, the more impressive element to this squad is their depth. On the floor at this time for Team USA was the 3.5 classification line-up. The other 3.5s on the floor to accompany Serio were Josh Turek (Council Bluffs, IA) and Matt Scott (Detroit, MI), who were the second and third leading scorers, respectively.
Teams have struggled to compete with the USA Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team throughout this tournament, because the depth of the team. The other teams from North, Central and South America have had the unenviable task of deciding which Americans to prioritize. As soon as they prioritize one player, another goes on a highly potent run of their own. What’s more, the entire USA roster has exhibited superior chair skills and speed, which have frequently stifled the movement of their opponents.
Despite the performance today and throughout this tournament, Head Coach Ron Lykins (Columbia, MO) is not satisfied yet. “I thought [the performance] today was pretty uneven. There are times we played pretty well and some times we played pretty poorly,” he said.
Team USA is seeking to finish top three at the Lima 2019 ParaPan American Games, in order to qualify for Tokyo 2020. Coach Lykins went on to say, “we’re going to use our time together tonight and tomorrow to prepare for our semi-final and be ready for whoever we face.”
This Friday, August 30, the USA Men will play the winner of Argentina vs. Puerto Rico, who are competing in another quarter-final later today.
The USA Women will play in their semi-final Thursday, August 29 against Argentina at 8:45 pm central.
Please continue to follow our social media for updates on game time and how to access the livestream at TeamUSA.org.
*Photo courtesy of Mark Reis and the USOPC
LIMA, PERU – The USA Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team defeated Brazil (57-42) in a physical contest. Both teams entered the game 2-0, and this game would determine who completed pool play as the number one seed entering the medal round on Thursday, August 29.
With such high stakes on the line, the USA Women were fully expecting a high degree of physicality. The officials in this game would allow the athletes to play through much of the contact, with a total of only 16 fouls called.
The 15-point differential does not truly reflect how closely contested this match was. Each team would mount a series of runs. This prompted Head Coach Trooper Johnson (San Lorenzo, CA) to substitute varied line-ups to find a combination that could work. Offensively, the USA had a down game, shooting only 44% from the field. “We got good looks and we missed them, and it kept feeding into their [Brazil’] emotional high, and they ran with it,” said Johnson.
Team USA entered the game leading all teams in scoring efficiency with a 68% average from the field. Rose Hollermann (Elysian, MN) entered the game leading all scorers with an average of 27 points per game, and third in scoring efficiency at 70%. By this standard, today’s game was an off game for Hollermann with 55% from the field. She went through a cold spell in the second quarter, leading Johnson to make a substitution with a little under three minutes left in the half.
Hollermann said she made an adjustment during the game to get back on track in the second half. “I kind of went through a drought in the 2nd quarter, and then coming off talking to Trooper, my coaches and my teammates and hearing them being encouraging and expecting more from me than what I showed,” she said.
It was a quiet third quarter for Hollermann, as Becca Murray (Germantown, WI) went on a run of her own scoring eight points and running a picture perfect two-man game with her co-captain Natalie Schneider.
However, the fourth quarter would belong to Hollermann again. Under duress and forced out wide from the Brazilian pressure, Hollermann would receive a last second pass from Lindsey Zurbrugg (Portland, OR). Hollermann calmly released the shot from 15 feet away on the right baseline, hitting nothing but the bottom of the net. Hollermann would go on to score four of the next five baskets for Team USA as they extended their lead back to 15 to close out the contest against Brazil.
Prior to Team USA’s last two pool play games, Hollermann and her teammates supported the US Embassy by conducting a demonstration in Lima on Sunday afternoon to help local athletes learn the game. Her best move of the trip so far may have happened off the court. Hollermann surprised a local athlete by gifting her one of her old game chairs, bringing the athlete to tears. Rose said, “It’s really awesome that with the USA Team we have the opportunity to bring that equipment and donate it to people that need it and it can get used.”
Team USA will play in the semi-final of the Lima 2019 ParaPan American Games. Check our social media to learn who we are playing this Thursday and when.
*Photo courtesy of Mark Reis and the USOPC
LIMA, PERU – USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball defeats host country, Peru (100-16) at the 2019 Lima ParaPan American Games. The USA Women’s Team produced their 100-point scoring performance behind contributions from the full roster.
All athletes competed in the Monday evening game, with ten of twelve scoring in the contest. It was Rose Hollermann (Elysian, MN), however, who put on a scoring clinic in just over 25 minutes played. She delivered a 27-point performance, was 12 of 18 from the floor and was three for three from the line.
Several of Hollermann’s scoring opportunities were created by the adroit chair-skills of Courtney Ryan (San Diego, CA) who utilized her court vision and anticipation to set up the Peru defenders for a low seal (pick). This opened an unabated lane to the basket for the most potent scorer of the evening. Hollermann would return the favor when Peru jumped her on the wing, allowing Ryan to roll to the lane for a few lay-ups of her own. Ryan finished the game with six points.
The host country, once again, came out in droves to support their team. Their energy produced an amazing environment for the home team. Although their baskets were infrequent, the crowd was at the edge of their seat trying to will the ball in for their athletes. When they scored each of their baskets, the crowd absolutely erupted with a prolonged celebration.
However, Team USA produced a statistic that was more impressive, and that was the 44 assists they logged against Peru. Becca Murray (Germantown, WI) dished a staggering 16 assists to accompany her 14 points and seven rebounds. Murray, known primarily as an offensive weapon, used that reputation to her advantage. “I tried to use what the other teams know of me already to create opportunities for the other girls to shoot it,” she said.
The USA Women compete against Brazil tomorrow at 10:15 am central. Brazil and USA will both enter the game undefeated with a 2-0 record. Head Coach Trooper Johnson (San Lorenzo, CA) feels the team is gelling incredibly well but expects Brazil to be a test. “We had a great overall team effort, and everyone is contributing in different ways,” said Johnson. “We cannot rest on what we have done so far. Tomorrow is a new game, and Brazil is a worthy opponent.”