Students face off in wheelchair basketball game

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  • Phillip Mayer raced to the other side of the basketball court to assist a player with a pivotal shot just before halftime.

    The crowd cheered and coaches shouted out plays from the sidelines as the 10-year-old and his team went on to win the game 26-22.

    Mayer loves sports, but his spinal muscular atrophy has forced him to use an electric wheelchair for most of his life.

    The Howard Beach native is on the junior varsity team for the Henry Viscardi School, an educational institution for preschool-age children to adults who have severe physical disabilities.

    “I just love the team because it gives me a chance to be with my friends,” Mayer said during halftime. “It really helps me socially.”

    On Saturday, Mayer participated in the 21st annual Henry Viscardi Sportsmanship wheelchair basketball tournament in its gymnasium in Albertson as the culmination of the fall season. The Viscardi Cougars played against the Westchester School for Special Children and the Cerebral Palsy of Westchester school.

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