WALES — The Oak Hill Unified basketball team had wrapped up a “win” — the final score was 80-61 — against Maranacock/Winthrop, but with two minutes remaining, the Oak Hill student section was still on the edge of their seats.

The students — who packed the high school gymnasium’s bleachers for Tuesday’s game that started at 1 p.m. during school hours — wanted one more thing to happen before the clock hit triple zeros: see Winthrop/Maranacook’s Sam Bachelder get a bucket. Bachelder became an instant fan favorite when he came onto the court in the first half, waving to the crowd every time he returned to the bench.

The fans first showed their adoration late in the first half when Bachelder tried to score before halftime. The cheers got louder in the second half — knowing time was of the essence. However, the clock ran out before Bachelder could get the elusive basket.

Maranacock/Winthrop co-coach Jill Plourd said it was a positive experience for Bachelder.

“That’s OK, it’s all about the kids having fun and enjoying it,” Plourd said. “He was having a blast, regardless if he got a basket or not.”

The support for Bachelder and the other student-athletes is what Oak Hill athletic director and Unified coach Brian Daniels hoped for when he put together this game during Winter Carnival week, which the student body attended as part of the school day.


“I think that’s one of my favorite parts of Unified sports: everyone is supporting everyone,” Daniels said. “We talk about all year, the number one priority is to have fun. If you win, that’s a bonus. As you can see tonight, we had a gym full of student-athletes and students who were just having fun.”

The Oak Hill school staff explained to the general student body what Unified basketball is about, which involves students with disabilities and pairing them with student helpers on the court.

Daniels got the idea of hosting a game during the school day after the Raiders played a game in 2022-23 during Maranacook/Winthrop’s Winter Carnival where the student-athletes enjoyed the experience of playing in front of a packed crowd.

There were some nerves for the Raiders heading into their own Winter Carnival game Tuesday.

“We had a lot of kids coming up to this game that was very hesitant,” Daniels said. “They were anxious all day, and they weren’t sure what to expect. For all of them, this is probably the biggest crowd they ever performed in front of.”

Cody Severy said the chants of “Cody! Cody! Cody!” calmed him down.


“They said my name,” said Severy, who finished with eight points.

William Robitaille was another player the students loved every time he stepped on the court.

“There’s a couple of kids that our student body just embraced,” Daniels said. “Overall, we have great students and it’s one collective school — all of our kids embrace each other. It’s awesome. They love and support every aspect of the school.”

Both teams got the experience the varsity boys and girls teams have become accustomed to, featuring running through a banner and pregame introductions.

Oak Hill had a few fan favorites of its own in Gwyneth Behnke and Robitallie. The two combined for the Raiders’ first 10 points of the game.

Behnke lived up to her nickname — Gwyn “The Scoring Machine” — recording 12 points.


“She’s great; she’s one of our leading scorers,” Daniels said. “This is her second or third year playing. She loves it. She’s the heart and spirit of our team.”

Jayden Johnson and his 3-point prowess — he hit three 3s — led the Raiders with 17 points. Tristian Boy had 14 points.

Maranacook/Winthrop had its own 3-point sharpshooter in Jacob Staples, who knocked down four 3s. He helped the Black Bears battle back from the early deficit and tied the game at 49 with a trey.

“I felt guilty; I wanted him to come in (the paint) because he kept making his 3s,” Plourd said. “That was great.”

Other high scorers for the Black Bears were Katherine Nolette, with 12 points, and Isa Alverado and Joshua Ellis, each with 10 points. Ellis also grabbed several rebounds.

Plourd said Maranacook hosting its own Winter Carnival game and playing in Oak Hill’s allows the general student body to learn about their classmates.

“It’s a way to break down barriers,” Plourd said. “It’s a way for kids to see each other in a different light.”

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