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State H.S. Basketball Championship Ends With Bucket by Student With Autism

How do both teams in a state championship basketball game end up winners? By putting box scores aside and letting sportsmanship reign supreme.

Trinity Classical Academy (Santa Clarita, Calif.) and Desert Chapel High School (Palm Springs, Calif.) clashed this past weekend in a sectional high school basketball state championship. With 59 seconds left in the game, the Trinity Classical Knights had opened a 23-point lead, eliminating any chance of a comeback by the Desert Chapel Eagles.

That's when Knights coach John Brooks subbed in 5'6" freshman Beau Howell, who hadn't scored in any of the nine games he played this season. As it turns out, the 10th time was the charm.

Beau's teammates quickly got him the ball at the free-throw line, where he fired up a jumper that didn't fall. After snagging the rebound, one of his teammates passed right back to the wide-open Beau, who again shot from the charity stripe but couldn't convert. Desert Chapel secured the rebound this time and quickly called a timeout.

Had the game ended there, the Knights would have already been winners for allowing Beau to take a few shots. They didn't stop there, though.

After inbounding the ball, they deliberately allowed Beau to steal it (the first steal of his career, per The Santa Clarita Valley Signal) and pointed him straight to the basket. His first two shot attempts fell errant, but the Knights rebounded both and handed the ball right back to Beau, who made good on his third attempt:

"To see how this team, who doesn't know our school, certainly doesn't know Beau, to see the way they responded was such an incredible blessing," said Beau's mother, Megan, to the Signal. "They had the opportunity to be disappointed and focus on themselves. It was a hard game for them, but they immediately responded in a beautiful way."

Desert Chapel senior Taner Alvarez said that neither he nor his teammates knew that Beau had autism. 

We saw him come on the court and everyone giving him a standing ovation, and he probably hadn't scored in his life," Alvarez told the paper. "Why not let him score in the biggest game of his life?"

Don't underestimate the maturity the Desert Chapel players demonstrated. Swallowing a 20-plus-point loss in a championship game couldn't have been easy. They managed to push those emotions in the back of their minds, at least temporarily, to focus on the opportunity at hand.

"That will always be in my heart," Alvarez told the paper. "That kid scoring and for me to give him that shot felt pretty cool."

And that is how you end up a winner despite losing a game by 25 points.

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