March 02, 2012LISBON — Sometimes a basket counts more than two points. A uniform is more
than a shirt and shorts — and basketball is bigger than 10 guys running up
and down the gym trying to heave a ball through a hoop.
It's doubtful anyone at Lisbon Regional School has ever worn the
orange-and-black with more pride than junior forward Tyler Tetrault.
Doubtful any ball that fell through a rim meant more than the bucket
Tetrault scored against Lin-Wood on Feb. 17. Doubtful any squad understands
the meaning of 'team' better than the Panthers.
Tetrault was born with Down syndrome, a genetic condition that causes delays
in physical and intellectual development. Although many children have
physical and mental limitations, they can live independent and productive
lives well into adulthood. Tetrault is getting a head start on independence
every time he puts on his No. 55 uniform. He initiated an interest and the
Panthers welcomed him to the fold.
"He kind of asked about it and got recruited a little bit by the guys. He's
in the special ed department and he is pretty well known throughout the
school. He's not shy," said Lisbon coach Sam Natti. "We didn't really know
at first whether he was just going to be there and kind of act as a manager
or whether or not he was going to be on the team. As he showed some more
interest he just kind of developed into one of the guys."
Like the rest of the guys he has his habits. Tetrault's pre-game ritual
includes an elaborate stretching routine. After the Panthers go through the
layup drill he joins his teammates for the shoot-around — the team huddle
follows as coach Natti gives last-minute instructions before the opening
tip. Then Tetrault can usually be found near the end of the bench patiently
waiting for his chance to shine.
"To be honest with you he's just one of the guys. I don't notice him more
than anybody else," Natti said. "The guys get a lot of credit for that too.
Everybody keeps an eye on him, not that we really have to — but they
certainly look after him and make sure he has what he needs. And his parents
have been great too — Joanna Tetrault and George Tetrault — they've put
complete trust in all the guys and myself and have allowed him to be a part
Tetrault's teammates have shown maturity beyond their years.
"As they get older and they move on I think they'll kind of look back and
realize what they're getting out of it. He is a part of the team," Natti
said. "Down the road they'll look back and realize: A, what he did for them
— but what these guys are doing for him to get him involved and most
important make him part of the team — that's really what makes me happiest
with the whole situation."
Lisbon senior guard Andrew Knighton said the 18 days the Panthers were
scheduled to play this season were special ones for Tetrault.
"He runs around school and he's got his suit on for game days and he loves
to be with us and we enjoy having him with us," Knighton said. "He always
wears his orange and black. He loves everything about Lisbon."
One of Tetrault's chances to play arrived on Feb. 17 in the final minute of
Lisbon's 67-25 home victory over Lin-Wood. He scored the game's final bucket
against the Lumberjacks.
"We played Lin-Wood the other night on senior night. The guys from Lin-Wood
were great — handled it perfectly, they were classy. We got him in against
Woodsville too — and the same thing — everybody's been great about it. We
had the ball under the basket (against Lin-Wood) with 1.1 seconds left.
Tyler got it and hit a shot at the buzzer," Natti said. "It wasn't done in a
way where anybody was letting him do anything. He still had to go out and
Tetrault's basket on Lisbon's senior night was his second field goal this
season. He scored his first bucket from the field at Lin-Wood during a 65-25
Lisbon victory Feb. 10. The Lumberjacks didn't let the loss dim their
"In all honesty Tyler was probably the 10th most excited player on the
floor. It was great. All five guys from Lin-Wood went over and congratulated
him. All our guys were celebrating, obviously," Natti said. "Then about five
seconds later it finally kicked in (for Tetrault) that he just scored so
there was some celebration."
More celebration arrived on Lisbon's senior night. The last guy off the
bench — in the last home game of the year — scored the last bucket at the
"Garrett (McGrath) and Mike (Heath) set a double screen for him," Knighton
said. "I passed it to him and he shot it. And everybody went crazy. It was
probably one of the best moments of my senior year. Getting a kid like that
to be a part of us and to score in a game like that is just unbelievable."
It might have been the biggest bucket this season.
"It was probably the loudest cheer of the year. The whole gym came over to
congratulate him after the game and he loved it," Natti said. "I don't
think anybody's going to forget that for a while."
Tetrault wasn't prone to long answers after Lisbon's final road game at
Littleton Friday night. But he said that buzzer-beater wasn't his favorite
memory. Lisbon's scorebook noted just two points for his basket — the names
in the log's player column meant far more to Lisbon's junior forward.
"My team," Tetrault said.