Illinois women’s wheelchair basketball team goes undefeated in Wisconsin tournament

By Ryan Wilson, Staff writer

The Illinois women’s wheelchair basketball team went 0-4 in its weekend series before Thanksgiving at Wisconsin-Whitewater, but due to the classification rule in wheelchair basketball, the Illini were credited with four wins.

Whitewater’s head coach Christina Schwab and Illinois’ assistant coach Kate Rougeau confirmed the regulation.

The classification system is meant to keep wheelchair basketball games fair. Players are designated a specific classification based on abilities. Classes go from 1.0 with “no active movement of the trunk in the vertical, forward or sideways plane” all the way up to a 4.5, which “displays the ability to move the truck maximally in all planes,” according to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

A team cannot have more than 14 points on the court at one time.

Illinois played teams, Arizona, Wisconsin-Whitewater and two squads from the Canada National Academy, that did not have the adequate rosters to go below 14 points. So they decided to forfeit the games prior to the tournament.

Still, Illinois wasn’t satisfied with its outcome.

“We realized we do make certain mistakes, but we need to get out of our heads,” Christina Young said.

The Illini shot 44.4 percent from the field in their first two games of the tournament.

That was coupled with freshman starter Erica Wilson shooting 7-for-22 in the tournament. She played a crucial role in the team’s season opener in Chicago, but was quiet in Wisconsin.

“When it comes to missing our shots, we’ve realized we need to go right back hard on (defense),” Young said. “Defense is something we can be really successful on.”

Illinois’ defense also faltered. The team allowed its opponents to shoot 50.8 percent.

Illinois’ best shot at actually winning came in the first game of the four-game trip. It was against Arizona, and the Illini were leading, 24-16, at the half. Kaitlyn Eaton and Young had eight points apiece in the half.

Arizona responded after halftime with an 11-4 third quarter to win, 44-41.

The Illini move to 6-3 overall on the season. They will not play again until the spring.

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