The music blasted through the gym, the crowd clapped and opponents Kaleb Parrish of Mason and Fowlerville’s Dillon Weis bobbed their heads in glee.
It was a rare moment in competitive sports where bitter opponents shared a common love during the heat of a basketball game. As the Gladiators and Bulldogs waited for the second half of Friday night’s game at Fowlerville to begin a couple dozen special needs students celebrated the end of their basketball game by dancing in the center of the court and bringing smiles to the crowd.
This spontaneous combustion of enthusiasm allowed the Gladiators to temporarily forget the end to end thumping to Mason, a game that swelled to a Pistons like shellacking won by Mason 65-19.
“Absolutely this allows our players to put things in prospective,” said Fowlerville coach Connor Collins. “We must remember there are bigger things than what we’re doing.”
Here is the big picture from Friday night. Mason (4-1) is still living in the joy of its run to the Division -3 MHSAA football finals where it lost to 27-10 to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central and finished the season 13-1.
One of the starting forwards – junior Cason Carswell – is an All-State quarterback. All five starters will play in college in a variety of sports – including football, baseball and track and field. Mason is a well-oiled machine that put a choke hold on Fowlerville from the beginning.
“What we talked about is how hard we must work and that we must play the perfect game,” Collins said. “We look at how well they play. How they know to be in the right spots.”
Mason (2-0) is tied with Williamston (2-0) for first in the Capital Area Activities Conference and is gunning for its second straight league championship.
Fowlerville never had a chance. Mason jumped to a 19-2 first quarter lead because of its defense which sprung its fast break and opened things up for Levi Stambaugh (17 points) who scored 15 first half points. Luke Marlan (seven points) is usually the Bulldogs top scorer, but was content with being a play maker and organizers on defense.
There wasn’t much drama or entertainment this evening until the special Olympians took over at half time. This has become an annual event where Mason and Fowlerville athletes battle one another. No one kept score but the game was announced as an 18-18 tie.
Players jumped for joy after every basket. After their game, which was performed during half time of the varsity game, the athletes stayed on the floor for a spontaneous dance party which ignited the gym. Last year the game was played between the boys and girls varsity games. Their enthusiasm helped Fowlerville forget the drubbing from Mason.
The dance party delayed the beginning of the second half but nobody seemed to mind.
It was a rough night for Fowlerville, but junior Dylan Soli scored nine points to lead the Gladiators.