An assist to Alex

An assist to Alex »Play Video
Alex Wickersham, of McCain Middle School in Payette, plays on the basketball team while also having autism.

Middle school basketball doesn't feature the slam dunks or behind-the-back passes you see on television. It does provide plenty of grit and energy though.

One player in Payette has to exert more effort than anyone else, but it pays off.

Monday was business as usual for the eighth grade basketball team at McCain Middle School. That includes Alex Wickersham, who loves playing the game.

"Oh, I feel awesome," WIckersham said at practice. "I feel like I'm throwing a party."

Alex is autistic but can do just about everything his teammates do.

"He's gotten to play in every game," McCain head coach Zach Ballard said. "Some games he plays more than others but we try to get him out there as much as we can."

"Sometimes I run out of energy and air, and sometimes I have to go sit down," Wickersham said.

Like all players, nothing beats making a shot.

"It makes me feel really and extremely awesome," he said.

For Wickersham to score, it can take the help of the opposing team. The squad that's trying to beat the Pirates.

That's what happened in a contest against Weiser.

With time winding down in a game againt the Wolverines, and Alex in the game, Weiser players decided to lend a hand.

"They understand that it was a special moment, an electric moment," said Weiser head coach, Ross Capurro. "Those things, they don't happen very often."

On the play where Alex was determined to score, Wolverine player Esteban Rivera snared three rebounds, but also commited three turnovers by giving the ball back to Wickersham.

"I grabbed the rebound and I passed back to him," Rivera said. "We were all happy because the time was about to run out and we were really hoping he would make it."

"That was awesome," Wickersham exclaimed.

It won't show up on the stat sheet, but when Alex scores in a game, everybody gets an assist.