Wilmington basketball team helps rival player with down syndrome - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Wilmington basketball team helps rival player with down syndrome feel like 'King of the Court'

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NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -

When it comes to heart, enthusiasm, and determination, nobody beats Josh Loposky on a basketball court. 

"He loves just being in the gym and being part of the bench and being on the team and putting on the uniform and warming up before the game," said Reynolds basketball coach Dan Kilgore. "To be able to take part in it is everything to him."

For Josh, who has down syndrome, it all started in third grade. 

"It was all about just being with his friends and being on a team," said Josh's mother Daria Loposky.

Now a senior in high school at Reynolds in Greenville, Josh has had several moments on the court his parents never thought would be possible. 

"We hope the best for our son that people would be understanding, they would be patient, they would be kind, and you see that, and that's what sports are about," said Josh's dad, Father Stephen Loposky.

While a lot of teams have been patient, understanding and gracious to Josh, it was at a recent game against Wilmington where Josh got to shine. 

"You don’t see that kind of sportsmanship a lot anymore, and it was good to see two programs like us, teams that compete all the time together, kind of put the competition aside for the better cause of that young individual," said Wilmington basketball coach Mike Jeckavitch.

It was a real display of compassion over competition thanks to Wilmington junior Ian Sullivan.

"It’s really just one of those things that transcend basketball," said Sullivan.

It was the final minute of the game and Wilmington was up big. Sullivan took the inbounds pass, and instead of racing up the court to try and score, he let Josh steal the ball and make a layup. And he did it not once, not twice but three straight times. 

"The will to make him happy, give him the ability to have a good night, it’s more than me getting my own," said Sullivan.

Josh ended up scoring 8 points and was the team's second-leading scorer.

"They sacrificed their opportunity for Josh to have his moment, I think that's the most tremendous part," said Kilgore. 

"It means so much to us as parents and to treat Joshy, our Joshy as just a person, to see nothing other than a basketball player across from you in this way but to allow them a moment in time that will last a lifetime," said Father Stephen Loposky. 

"Oh this will be something he will never forget," said Daria Loposky.

The final score says Reynolds lost the game, but there were no losers in the gym that night. It was a night where the game of basketball took a back seat to sportsmanship and kindness. 

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