Day nine and 10 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was filled with victories for Lakeshore’s training site teams. The USA Women’s Goalball Team defeated Brazil 3-2 in a dramatic, defensive battle against the host nation on Friday morning. All three goals – two of them penalty goals – where scored by Jen Armbruster, and she was able to finish her seventh Paralympics with her fourth medal.
Friday afternoon, the USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team took on perennial rival and defending Paralympic champion Germany. It was a back-and-forth battle in the first two quarters, ending with a 14-12 U.S. lead. After halftime, the American women came out strong with a 13-0 run in the first four minutes of the third period and never looked back. Thanks to the hot-handed shooting of Becca Murray (Germantown, Wisconsin), who shot 60% for 33 points, combined with Rose Hollermann’s (Elysian, Minnesota) double double (10 points, 11 rebounds), the U.S. claimed a 62-45 victory over Germany. This was the fourth Paralympic gold medal for the U.S., making it the most decorated women’s wheelchair basketball program in Paralympic history.
Day ten began with a clash of North American powerhouses, USA and Canada, in the wheelchair rugby semifinal match. The U.S. entered the game undefeated with a 57-56 over-time victory against Japan the previous day. The matchup between the two nations was physical from the start. Chuck Aoki (Minneapolis, Minnesota) took the first score of the game from the tip off, and things remained evenly paced for the first five minutes. With a strong defensive effort throughout the period, it was 14-13 in the United States’ favor at the end of one. Successive turnovers by the Canadians in the second period allowed the Americans to go up by four with five minutes left in the half. At the end of the first half it was the U.S. 29, Canada 26. Both teams played aggressive defense in the opening minutes of third. Aoki capitalized on a missed inbound pass by the Canadians and brought the margin back up to four. The period ended with the U.S. 43, Canada 39. Canada finished the match in strong fashion, but once again, costly turnovers allowed the U.S. to capitalize and secure a 60-55 victory. Top scorers for the U.S. were Chuck Aoki with 34, Josh Wheeler (San Tan Valley, Arizona) with 11 and Kory Puderbaugh (San Diego, California) with nine. The win puts the U.S. through to the gold medal match on Sunday. The game will be streamed live on teamusa.org at 10:30 a.m. CT, but you can also watch the action on NBC at 2 p.m. CT with commentary by Lakeshore’s Gary Pate.
Saturday ended in a golden sweep for USA Wheelchair Basketball with the men defeating Spain 68-52. The game started as a low scoring defensive battle with the U.S. leading 12-8 at the end of the first quarter. Birmingham, Alabama native Brian Bell led the Americans in scoring in the first with six points. The second quarter was another period of back-and-forth runs, but once again, Bell finished out the half with a key basket and a 29-23 American lead. Spain came out strong in the third outscoring the U.S. 19-18, but two key three-pointers for Jake Williams (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) kept the U.S. up 47-42. The USA’s unrelenting defense was too much for Spain in the fourth and the Americans went on to a 68-52 win. First-time Paralympians Jake Williams and Brian Bell were the top scorers with 20 and 15 points. This ends a 28-year gold medal drought for the U.S. men.
In individual action, Lakeshore athletes Josh Roberts and Jennifer Schuble finished Paralympic competition on Friday and Saturday. Roberts ended with a ninth place finish in the men’s 1500m T52 race and Schuble an eighth place finish in the women’s C4-5 road race. She will now earn some well deserved rest after her demanding five-event Paralympic campaign. Kerri Morgan completed her third Paralympic Games with a silver medal in the women’s 100m T52.
Tomorrow is the final day of the Rio Paralympic Games and may prove to be the most dramatic with the wheelchair rugby gold medal match featuring USA vs. Australia. Don’t forget to tune into NBC at 2 p.m. CT and cheer on Team USA.