LOUISVILLE, KY–The Charlottesville Cardinals wheelchair basketball team ended their season today as they fell to the Seattle Sonics in a seesaw cliffhanger, 53-50.
The loss left the Cardinals 0-4 over the course of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s national championship tournament this week. The #3 New York Rollin’ Knicks and the #1 Dallas Movin’ Mavericks will compete for the NWBA championship on Sunday.
Charlottesville opened today’s contest very aggressively and posted a quick 8-2 lead. Over the course of the first half, however, the Cardinals repeatedly penetrated the Seattle full court press but too often failed to convert the open layup and allowed the Sonics to post a 28-25 lead at halftime.
The lead exchanged hands several times throughout the second half before Seattle moved ahead 48-42 with two minutes left in the game. The Cardinals closed to 52-50 with with 19 seconds remaining and fouled the Sonics’ Trajan McCallister to stop the clock. After McCallister converted one free throw to increase the lead to 53-50 the Cardinals managed to fire up two three-point shots that missed the mark before the final buzzer.
Charlottesville scorers were led by Tom Vandever with 13 points, followed by Brandon Rush with 12, Chris Robinson with 10, Jacob Tyree with 9, Eddie Wimbish with 4, and Joey Leavitt with 2. The Sonics’ Jon McKanna led all scorers with 16.
In Friday’s game against the Birmingham Lakeshore Storm the Cardinals struggled from the outside. In the opening seconds of the games Charlottesville’s Tom Vandever had to leave the contest to repair his damaged wheelchair and by the time he returned to the game midway through the first half the Cardinals trailed 21-12 and both Eddie Wimbish and Chris Robinson were saddled with four fouls each. The shorthanded Cardinals were unable to protect both players with substitutes and Wimbish fouled out late in the first half.
Trailing 32-20 at the half the Cardinals never managed to mount a rally and bowed to the Lakeshore team, 76-49. Charlottesville scorers were led by Brandon Rush with 15 points, followed by Chris Robinson and Tom Vandever with 10 each, Jacob Tyree with 8, Joey Leavitt with 4, and Eddie Wimbish with 2. Lakeshore’s Ryan Hynes led all scorers with 38 points.
Charlottesville finishes its season with 21-15 record. The Cardinals will appear at Northumberland Middle School in Heathsville, Virginia next Friday to play in an exhibition game against Northumberland High School athletes and faculty.