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High school senior with Down syndrome starts in varsity girls basketball game

Franklin High School in Franklin, Massachusetts, is known for its special education and inclusion programs, and on Friday night, the school helped mark the life of one of its own.

>> Watch the news report here

Taylor Padula, who has Down syndrome, started for the first time in a girls varsity basketball game.

The high school senior has never let any obstacle get in the way of her high school experience and showed how her passion for the sport moves her.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Padula's captains and best friends asked the coach to put her in and share in their senior night.

"I'm so proud," said Taylor. "They are my best friends and my teammates."

She's the Franklin girls varsity basketball team manager, and for the first time in four years, she started Friday night's game against Taunton.

Sure enough, with a little planning and a lot of good sportsmanship, Padula, wearing jersey No. 5, had the night of her life.

"Taylor’s a very serious basketball kid; don’t let her smile fool you," said John Leighton, the team's coach. "She’s a cold-hearted killer on the court. She’s out to score."

Her family, watching from the stands, cheered Padula on with proud smiles on their faces.

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"She pretty much died and went to heaven tonight, yeah, she did," said Michael Padula, Taylor's father.

"It was so special, something that I’ve waited for since the day that she was born," said Kelley Padula, Taylor's mother.

To make the night even more memorable, her sister, Stefany, a freshman who plays in the junior varsity girls basketball team, pulled up to play along with Taylor.

"Unforgettable, the best, the best, amazing," said Kelley.

With Taylor's help cheering from the bench and scoring on the court, the Franklin girls' team clinched the title.

Florida girls basketball player sets national 3-point record 

A Florida high school girls basketball player set a national record for career 3-point baskets Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

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Brylee Bartram, a senior guard for Seffner Christian, connected 10 times against Covenant Prep Christian to give her 504 3-point baskets. That tops the mark of 500, set in 2010 by Ashley Wirtzberger of Gila Bend, Arizona, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations record book.

Bartram is only 17 3-pointers shy of surpassing the overall national record of 520, set in 2015 by boys basketball player Bjorn Borman of Duluth, Minnesota, according to the NFHS record book.

The record-breaking shot came 23 seconds into the second quarter of Seffner Christian’s 81-30 victory, the Times reported.

Bartram will have a chance to break the record over the next few weeks, as Seffner Christian (17-7) ends its regular season Saturday and will play in a district tournament next week, the newspaper reported.

"It means a lot," Bartram told the Times. "It's taken a lot of hard work to get here. And there's still a lot of hard work to do. I felt like tonight was going to be the night. I feel relieved."

12 charged in high school basketball brawl

Twelve people, including students and adults, will be charged in connection with a fight at a Pennsylvania high school basketball game earlier this month, police said.

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They face disorderly conduct charges.

Clairton police released details about the Feb. 6 brawl at Clairton High School between Clairton and Monessen.

Police said it began as a fight between two players and escalated from there.

Eight teenagers and four adults are charged. All are from Clairton and Monessen, police said.

In a news release, officers said they offered victims a chance to come forward to sort out who was involved in the fight, but no one did, so they used surveillance video to figure out who to charge.

The charges come after WPIAL officials decided to suspend players who left the benches for one game and put both schools on unprecedented five-year probations.

Monessen is appealing that decision.

California prep basketball player with Down syndrome scores first basket

A California teenager with Down syndrome had a memorable senior night, scoring his first career basket in his first appearance in a game, KMPH reported.

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Jack Welsh was introduced last on Feb. 8 as Reedley High School honored its seniors.

“The heart and soul of Reedley,” Pirates football coach Brandon Nagle said. "That would explain Jack right there."

When the game began, Welsh posted up and connected for a basket, prompting the student section to rush the court to congratulate him, KMPH reported.

“You want to cry," said Jack's father, John Welsh. “You know, we didn't know anything about it, so, it really took us by surprise.”

For three years, Jack Welsh has been a part of the Reedley basketball, football and baseball teams, Basketball coach Travis Ferrell said inserting Welsh into the lineup was a great way to celebrate his high school career.

“He comes to all of our practices. He brings energy that sometimes our players don't bring, and we feed off of him,” Ferrell told KMPH. “So to me, it was the least we could do to have this type of celebration on senior night.”

“To see the joy in his face and to experience what all these boys have experienced for four years -- he's like any other boy," John Welsh told KMPH. “He wants to participate.”

Teen shot in head is back to playing basketball after more than a year in recovery

Last year, a Chicago Public Schools honor student was shot in the head and has since made an unbelievable comeback Tuesday night. Damari Hendrix is back on the basketball court this week for the first time since a random shooting nearly took his life.

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According to WGN, Hendrix had to go through surgery three times and spent four days in a medically induced coma. He also was forced to learn to walk and talk again. But now he’s running, and his coach says he’s also redefining what’s possible.

>> On Rare.us: There’s a sad statistic about shooting deaths, influenced by Chicago

“Watching them practice, it’s impossible to believe that not long ago, one of these young men lay dying from a gunshot wound to the head,” Brian Rose, Hendrix’s coach, said. Last Labor Day weekend in a park near his home, Hendrix came close to his life ending.

“We just heard ‘shooter,’ and everybody got up running and stuff and I didn’t know I was shot until later on, I was running, my body started shutting down and stuff. I couldn’t see, walk, talk, run no more,” he said.

>> On Rare.us: Facebook Live video catches a fatal Chicago shooting that ended a toddler’s life

Hendrix came back on the court with his teammates at Foreman High School for the first time in 14 months – and all he can do is grin. Hendrix is still working on some fine motor skills but you wouldn’t know by watching him practice – dunking a couple of times.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“I get a second chance at life. I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “Up. I only want to go up, get better and better every day.”

Coach suspended after 161-2 rout

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You may expect a coach to be suspended for losing too many games. But what about when his team wins one?

That's exactly what happened to the head coach of a high school girls basketball team in California after they beat the other team 161-2.  

That is not a typo.  The Arroyo Valley High School girl's basketball team beat Bloomington High School  by nearly 160 points the Sporting News reported.

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But despite putting the bench in, they still scored and handily beat their opponents. 

That's where the suspension comes in.  According to the local newspaper, Arroyo Valley's school board suspended Michael Anderson for two games .

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported Anderson played the starters for the first half and they scored an average of 13 points a minute, or 104 points in the first 16-minute half.

Some say putting the bench in the second half was too little too late.  The Daily Bulletin said Anderson should have slowed the game once it became obvious that the other team was no match.  They did report that Anderson imposed a 23-second wait on shots for his team. 

Another coach suggested in a Daily Bulletin story, that Anderson should have followed his lead when a score is one-sided and let the other side score and change the way the team played further, going so far as to not block a shot or steal the ball.  

As for the team, they handily beat their opponents in the first game of Anderson's suspension.  Arroyo Valley beat Indian Springs 80-19 Wednesday night.  Anderson will return courtside on Monday.

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