Jordan High School graduate Josie Aslakson is currently competing for Team USA in the Tokyo Paralympics for women's wheelchair basketball.
USA 62, Algeria 21
Josie Aslakson scored two points and had three rebounds in Team USA's 62-21 win against Algeria on Sunday, August 29. With the win, Team USA finishes out pool play 3-1 and will face Canada in the quarterfinals on Monday night into early Tuesday morning central time. (Results were unavailable at press time).
Canada star Kathleen Dandeneau (CAN) is undaunted by facing defending Paralympic champions the United States in the quarterfinals of women’s wheelchair basketball after the Tokyo 2020 elimination field was set on Sunday.
Canada and USA have won seven of the last eight Paralympic gold medals between them, but the North American powers will meet earlier than anticipated on Tuesday after Canada finished second in group A and USA came in third in group B.
“It means we might get a little bit of a tougher match-up in the quarters, but you've got to go through anyone to get to the gold medal game,” Dandeneau said after Canada’s group position was essentially sealed following Saturday’s loss to Germany.
The undefeated Germans followed up that win by coming from behind to defeat Japan 59-54 on Sunday to confirm their place at the top of group A.
“There was just the (other) option to lose and then just go second and we don’t know who to play,” said Germany’s Katharina Lang, who scored a game-high 27 points against Japan.
“Finishing first is the best feeling right now, and that’s what we wanted to reach.”
Their reward is avoiding a quarterfinal against USA and instead matching up against Spain, who defeated them in a pre-Paralympic practice game earlier this month.
“There’s time for revenge,” Lang said ahead of the all-European affair that is also a rematch of their 2018 world championship quarterfinal, won by Germany.
The other remaining undefeated team, China, topped group B and will face 2018 world silver medallist Great Britain for a place in the semifinals.
The last quarterfinal pits the world champion Netherlands against host nation Japan.
China 42, USA 41
Josie Aslakson recorded 2:02 of playing time in Team USA's 42-41 loss to China in Group B of the Paralympic wheelchair basketball tournament on Friday, August 27.
USA 68 vs. Spain 34
Josie Aslakson scored two points and had one rebound in Team USA's 68-34 win against Spain in women's wheelchair basketball on Thursday, August 26.
Stepping up on the sport’s biggest stage took two different forms for the United States in wheelchair basketball at Ariake Arena on Thursday, as their men's and women's teams claimed their first wins at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
With the USA men clinging to a one-point lead with 17 seconds left in their group B opener against Germany, Joshua Turek (USA) hit two clutch free throws to seal the 58-55 victory.
“We have to be accountable to each other because this is our Super Bowl,” Turek said. “So you gotta step up and make your shots. I knew that they were going to call my number at the end of the game if it came down to free throws. I was mentally locked in; I knew what I had to do.”
The USA women had an easier time in their group B game against Spain, triumphing 68-34 to bounce back from their first-up loss to the Netherlands on Wednesday.
The margin allowed coach Lawrence Johnson (USA) to relax his tight playing rotation and let some younger players experience their first Paralympic Games action.
One of those players, 19-year-old Bailey Moody, scored the first basket of her Paralympic career with just over three minutes left in the contest.
“There was so much adrenaline going, and I was not even thinking; it just happened,” Moody said. “It felt like my whole team was behind me. They helped me to get my first Paralympic points.”
With only three players returning from the gold medal campaign at Rio 2016 and the team in transition, incorporating the next generation of players has taken on extra importance.
“We were really excited to get our younger players in for their first Paralympic experience, and they did great,” said captain Natalie Schneider. "They stepped up well and I'm really proud of how they played.”
Josie Aslakson had one rebound in 4:59 of playing time.
Netherlands 68 vs. USA 58
Netherlands star Bo Kramer (NED) cited defense and intensity as the keys to a 68-58 triumph over USA that highlighted the opening day of wheelchair basketball at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
In a high-quality, heavyweight clash pitting the 2018 world champion Netherlands against Rio 2016 gold medallist United States, Kramer starred with 20 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.
After trailing by two points at the end of each of the first three quarters, the Netherlands used a 6-0 run from 54-54 midway through the fourth quarter to take control of the contest.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game, maybe one of the toughest of the pool,” Kramer said. "The key was we fought for 40 minutes.”
Kramer’s all-around game and the inside scoring of Mariska Beijer (NED), with a game-high 28 points, proved to be the difference.
Lindsey Zurbrugg (USA) scored 20 points in her first Paralympic game, including 18 in the first half when she showed brilliant outside touch.
"It felt pretty glorious in the first half,” Zurbrugg said. "They adjusted their defense (in the second half). They could not let me shoot wide open any more, because I was hitting so well.”
Kramer said preventing Zurbrugg from getting open shots in the second half was a priority.
“Oh, that girl’s insane,” she said. “We changed some tactics in the defense - one small thing - and that worked out pretty well.”
While the Netherlands took care of one North American powerhouse, another, Canada, showed they will be a force to be reckoned with after defeating 2018 world silver medallist Great Britain, 73-54.
Kathleen Dandeneau (CAN) dominated with 32 points, 20 rebounds, and 11 assists but played down her performance.
“A lot of the time it’s my teammates who are drawing the defense away that opens up lanes for me or gets me open shots, so it’s really a team effort,” she said.
Basketball Team Schedule
(Central Standard Time)
L: Aug. 24 - Netherlands 68, USA 58
W: Aug. 26 - USA 68, Spain 34
L: Aug. 27 - China 42, USA 41
W: Aug. 29 - USA 62, Algeria 21
Tuesday, Aug, 31 Quarterfinals at 10:30 p.m. - 2:30 a.m. / 4:15 a.m. - 8:15 a.m.
Thursday, Sept. 2 Semifinals at 4:15 a.m. - 8:15 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 4 Bronze/Gold and Ceremony at 3:45 a.m. - 8:15 a.m.