High school basketball shot of the year? Watch Josh Ross do the trick

Josh Ross, a member of the Thornton Academy Unified basketball team, practices trick shots and long-range shots for ‘hours’ at the school’s Linnell Gymnasium. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

SACO – Josh Ross deliberately dribbled the ball down the half court then turned his back to the basket.

On the Thornton Academy bench, teammate Mac Lowe yelled at Ross: “The other way. The other side.”

Then, Lowe said, “Josh looked at me as if to say, ‘I get it. “”

Ross, a junior for the Thornton Academy Unified basketball team, shuffled his feet slightly, braced, then tossed the ball over his head, back, a long arc shot that went through the net, causing a raucous celebration at Linnell Gymnasium and making Ross a social media star.

A video of his shot, which tied Sanford Unified Team 58-58 on March 8, appeared on Twitter a few days later and has been viewed nearly 9,800 times. Many people call it the hit of the year, the high point of the school season.

“It was amazing,” said Mike Cook, a Saco resident who posted the video on Twitter. “I mean, it’s like the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. And what makes it even more special is that it was made in a unified game.

Those who know Josh Ross aren’t surprised he pulled it off. He practices it, and other long range shots, endlessly.

“That’s who Josh is,” said Kristin Smythe, a special education teacher and unified coach at Thornton, who has Ross in the classroom and on the court. “If you tell him he can’t do something, he’ll show you. Academics or athletes, he will get there. He will do it.

Kristin Smythe is a special education teacher and unified coach at Thornton Academy who has Josh Ross both in the classroom and on the field. “If you tell him he can’t do something, he’ll show you. Academics or athletes, he will get there. He will do it. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Ross, 16, was born with Down syndrome. Smythe called her “an assistant” in the classroom, always helping her with whatever she did. Lowe called him a “great kid, always nice to everyone”.

And he loves to play basketball. He said he spent “hours” practicing his shots. And it shows. He likes to shoot from behind the 3-point arc, and when he’s hot he doesn’t miss often.

He transferred to Thornton Academy from Scarborough High two years ago and joined the unified team this year at the suggestion of Smythe, who shares coaching duties with Tricia Heidelbaugh.

“I know the impact Unified has had on students in my class and on students across campus,” Smythe said. “I just knew it would be a good choice for Josh. And he was ready to go.

The Maine Principal’s Association began offering Unified Basketball in Maine high schools in 2015. The sport pairs students with developmental disabilities with students without developmental disabilities, called partners. Sport promotes the values ​​of sport, such as physical activity, teamwork and sportsmanship, as well as social inclusion. Seventeen schools participated in the first year; this year, 62 schools sponsored unified basketball teams.

Lowe, a junior forward for the Thornton men’s basketball team, is partnered with Ross on the unified team. He joined unified basketball as a freshman at the request of his older brother.

“I like it because it gives students an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have, like Josh,” Lowe said. “He comes in after school and has fun and meets new friends. And it’s special when they light up after scoring a basket.

Mac Lowe, left, and Josh Ross are teammates for the Thornton Academy Unified basketball team. After Ross made a half-court, back-to-basket, overhead shot in a March 8 game, Lowe says “Ross’ smile was the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.” . Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Like Josh Ross. When asked what his favorite time of day was, he said it was when he was playing basketball.

Thornton has only had two Unified games this year due to a lack of players. But Ross’s shot, which came late in the first half, remained a lasting memory, not just for himself, but for everyone who was there.

Cook attended the game with his wife, Angela, an educator at Thornton Academy. They started attending unified basketball games when their daughter, Lexi, was a team partner and didn’t stop even though she graduated. A friend sent the video to Angela Cook, and she forwarded it to Mike.

“I saw him do that shot in warm-up and I remember thinking, ‘Man, that would be awesome if he did that in the game,'” Mike Cook said. that he pulled it, I thought, ‘It’ll go in. That was great.’

“It was remarkable,” Lowe said.

On the video, you hear the reaction of the crowd and see people in the background jumping for joy. Ross, however, turned to his bench and simply strutted towards them, like it was nothing special.

But when he reached the bench, his teammates swarmed him. Then the Sanford team came and assaulted him too.

“To see the look on his face, it was a smile I had never seen on him before,” Smythe said. “He was just impressed with the support from everyone, his teammates, the other team. And the crowd. It was amazing.”

“I’m so happy and proud of him,” Lowe said. “I have never seen him so happy. I have never seen anyone so happy. Her smile just lit up the room. Once he approached the bench, his arms went up and he clapped his hands at everyone. …and his smile was the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

For Ross, there was a reason to smile.

“I made a basket,” he said.

The one who will never be forgotten.

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