BEIJING, China -The U.S. Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team is golden once again. The U.S. downed Germany, 50-38, to capture the gold medal for the second Paralympic Games in a row.
"This experience has been so incredible. It was a little more difficult this time because we had such a big target on our backs and we rose to the challenge," said team co-captain Patty Cisneros (Champaign, Ill./Lake Station, Ind.). "There's no better feeling than knowing you're the best in the world. This is so amazing."
The U.S. team came out a little shaky, looking a bit tentative and nervous in the first quarter. This quickly opened a door for the Germans and they took advantage, leading 12-9 after the first 12 minutes. That was the only lead Germany would ever hold.
The unsettled start didn't unsettle the U.S. team. Head coach Ron Lykins (Stillwater, Minn.) stuck with the game plan that has brought his team success all tournament long and brought in his press line-up to start the second quarter.
"Our defense has always been the cornerstone of our success," said Lykins. "We were just a little out of sync in the first quarter and when the press line-up came in we really settled into our game and started to play at our tempo. They did a remarkable job and I'm immensely proud of the effort of the whole team."
The second unit was led by Christina Ripp (Littleton, Colo./Dane, Wis.) whose leadership and experience shined in Monday's championship effort. This is the third Paralympic Games for Ripp and she came off the bench to direct a defensive effort that forced Germany into 19 turnovers and held the Germans to seven second quarter points. Ripp also led the team on offense with 16 points, joined by Carlee Hoffman (Champaign, Ill./Cutlerville, Mich.) with 10 points.
"I don't think I've ever been part of a team that plays defense the way we did during this tournament. It was a total team effort and everything came together for us tonight," said Ripp. "I'm proud to be a part of this team and it's an unbelievable feeling to share this achievement with my teammates."
For more information, or to arrange an athlete interview, please contact Susan Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 139-1075-4845 (Dial 011-86 plus the local number if calling from the U.S.).