By Steve Carr
Photo by Loren Worthington
What is Wheelchair Rugby?
Played on a hardwood basketball court with 32-foot wide goals at each end.
The object: carry the ball across the opposing team’s goal line. Each goal equals 1 point.
Each team can have 12 players, 4 play at one time.
Players are assigned numerical classifications based on their functional ability, with .5 indicating the least function and 3.5 the highest.
The total value of classifications on the court at any time cannot exceed 8 points. An extra .5 points is allowed for each female player on the court.
Games include four 8-minute quarters with a 2-minute break at the end of the first and third quarters and a 5-minute halftime.
Each team has 40 seconds to score a goal, unless there is less time than that on the clock.
Players in possession of the ball must dribble or pass at least once every 10 seconds.
360Heat Takes Division I Title
The unbeaten 360Heat overcame a sluggish start and a neck-and-neck battle with the Minnesota Steelheads. The 55-51 victory over the team from Golden Valley, MN secured 360Heat their third national title in the last four years.
The 360Heat’s perfect 5-0 tournament record completed their unblemished 32-0 record for the 2017 season.
“We have a lot of good, dedicated players on our team,” said 360Heat player/coach and five-time national title winner Scott Hogsett. “Their commitment is proven in the way they train. We practice three days a week during the season and they show up, work hard and know what they’re doing.”
The 360Heat and Minnesota Steelheads gave the capacity crowd all it could have hoped for in their hard-fought battle where no more than 2 points separated the teams through most of the first 3 quarters.
“We were close to blowing it open several times, but we couldn’t get it done,” Hogsett said. “But we stuck to our game plan and managed the clock at the end of the third quarter to give us the last goal and we had possession of the ball going into the fourth.”
With 14 seconds left on the game clock, 8 seconds on the shot clock and the score tied at 40, Hogsett called a time out, resetting the shot clock to 14 seconds. The extra time allowed veteran Joe Delagrave to score on a pass from Jim Roberts with 2 seconds remaining in the third quarter, giving the 360Heat the 41-40 lead.
The Roberts-to-Delagrave combination scored the first goal of the fourth quarter. Minnesota followed up with a score of its own, but Roberts and Delagrave teamed up again to make it a two-point 360Heat advantage.
Minnesota was able to get as close as one point on several occasions, but with the score at 49-47, Roberts denied a Minnesota goal at the goal line and Phoenix responded with an Ernie Chunn goal followed by a Delagrave steal-and-score for a 51-47 lead. A lead the team never relinquished.
“The hardest thing to do is to win a game you’re supposed to win,” Hogsett said. “Playing at home is very hard, and when you’re favored, it creates a lot of undue pressure. But we’ve got a great system and really smart players when it comes to a championship game, training and conditioning are the key. Plus we had a great crowd in the building and the fans really got through it,” he said. “I’ve never seen the court so full and I’ve got to say that Ability360 really made this tournament special.”
After the game, Hogsett told the team that next season he would spend more time coaching and less playing, moving Joe Jackson into
the starting lineup.
Jackson, Delagrave and Chunn will head for Japan in May as part of the USA National Team while the rest of the 360Heat players are off until the start of next season in October. For more information about the USQRA, visit usqra.org
Steve Carr is President of the Kur Carr Group, Inc., a full-service public relations agency. He has received numerous journalism awards for newspaper writing and photography, and for annual reports, newsletters and video production. He is a recipient of the Margie Frost Champion Against Poverty Award from the Arizona Community Action Association.