Nova Scotia

Student with Down syndrome makes 'winning' bucket in junior high game

It was a special moment last week at a junior high basketball game in Shelburne County. Some sportsmanship helped Grade 7 student Cameron, who has Down syndrome, to score a basket for his Barrington Barons.

Sportsmanship from Yarmouth team allowed Cameron MacKinnon to sink basket

Cameron MacKinnon stands next to Barrington Barons coach Wade Banks. (Rhonda Symonds)

It was a special moment last week at a junior high basketball game in Shelburne County.

Grade 7 student Cameron MacKinnon, who has Down syndrome, is the team manager for the Barrington Barons. He asked his coach earlier this season if he could play in a game.

"I was a little worried because I didn't want any of the players to hurt him if he couldn't keep up," said Barrington coach Wade Banks. "But our boys were so willing and game to make it happen."

So Banks hatched a plan for MacKinnon to play.

Cameron MacKinnon sinks a shot in a game last week. (Rhonda Symonds)

Barrington had a game coming up against Yarmouth's Maple Grove Education Centre and Banks contacted their coach.

"Me and Wade have always had a good relationship for the years that we have been coaching at opposing schools," said Maple Grove coach Kayla Fells. "He mentioned that if the game was not close he would like to get Cameron on the court."

Fells met with her team before the game to see if they would be on board. They quickly agreed to help make it happen for MacKinnon.

With about two minutes left in the game and the outcome no longer in doubt, Banks put MacKinnon in. Maple Grove was ready to facilitate a MacKinnon basket.

Cameron's mother was brought into the gym just before Cameron went into the game. She got to see him score.

"It was amazing, there were definitely a few tears," said Melanie MacKinnon. "After the game he said, 'I got the winning basket.' It wasn't the winning basket but to him it was."

The Barrington Barons basketball team is pictured with Cameron MacKinnon (16) in the front row. (Rhonda Symonds)

Curtis Middleton was the Maple Grove player who went out of his way to get the ball into MacKinnon's hands so he could make a basket.

MacKinnon needed three tries to score but he hit nothing but net when he swished the ball through the hoop on his third try.

"It was an amazing thing to be a part of," said Fells. "I was so proud of my boys. Especially proud of Curtis. He has the biggest heart."

Banks was pleased the co-operative effort was executed to perfection.

"I'm sure Curtis's parents were proud of him before, but this was really inspirational," Banks said of Middleton's sportsmanship. "The whole thing really just makes me smile and it was really quite something."

A video posted on Facebook shows the final part of the game when MacKinnon came on to the floor and made his memorable shot.

Both teams cheered loudly when MacKinnon made the shot just seconds before the game ended.

High-fives all around

Banks said MacKinnon was giving high-fives to everyone around him after the game. There were few fans allowed in the gym because of COVID restrictions.

"The few people who were allowed into the gym, they all knew this was a pretty special moment," said Banks. "The next day at school, Cameron was being treated like a superstar."

Cameron's mother says she was truly moved by the gesture.

"Just the way it all played out with Curtis helping him, that part was not planned, that was all on his own and it was wonderful."

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