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The biggest bucket of Lisbon's season



Tetrault
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Lisbonís Tyler Tetrault, No.55, warms up with his teammates Friday night at Littleton High. Charlie Lentz/The Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
March 02, 2012
LISBON — 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

of it."

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

hit shots."

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

sportsmanship.

"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

buzzer.

"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.

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