SANTA ANA, Calif. — Beau did it.
After 15 almosts in 10 games played, Trinity Classical Academy Knights freshman Beau Howell scored a basket in the biggest basketball game in school history.
It ended up being the final points of the Knights’ 77-52 victory on Saturday against Desert Chapel High of Palm Springs in the CIF-Southern Section Division VI championship game at Godinez High in Santa Ana.
There were lumps in throats and tears in eyes — not just for the basket by the boy with autism, but for the spontaneous gesture that led to the score.
“We saw him come on the court and everyone giving him a standing ovation, and he probably hadn’t scored in his life,” said Desert Chapel senior and the school’s all-time leading scorer Taner Alvarez. “Why not let him score in the biggest game of his life?”
Alvarez said he, nor anyone of his teammates knew that Beau has autism.
But with 42 seconds left, after Beau missed two previous consecutive shots, Desert called a timeout.
Alvarez took the ball after the timeout, and immediately handed it to Beau, who was credited with the first steal of his career.
Alvarez pointed to the basket and the Trinity section of the bleachers chanted his name.
Beau shot and missed.
He shot again.
Alvarez pointed for him to take a few steps closer to the basket and with 19 seconds left in the game, Beau Howell scored the final points of the biggest win in Trinity basketball history.
The Trinity section made the biggest noise of the game.
Desert Chapel player Kaleb Whan broke out the biggest smile and clapped.
Beau’s teammates gave him a giant hug.
“To see how this team, who doesn’t know our school, certainly doesn’t know Beau, to see the way they responded was such an incredible blessing,” said Beau’s mother, Megan, who is the principal of Trinity’s Imago Dei School — an educational program for children with developmental and learning disabilities. “They had the opportunity to be disappointed and focus on themselves. It was a hard game for them, but they immediately responded in a beautiful way.”
Megan was up in the bleachers on her feet and holding onto Head of School Liz Caddow and Upper School Principal Wendy Massetto when Beau had the ball.
They hoped and screamed, then finally cried.
For the next 19 seconds until the game’s final horn, the entire Trinity section was bouncing from what had just happened.
Beau knew he received a gift.
“He came back in the locker room (after the game) and said, ‘They let me shoot it,’” said his teammate and peer mentor at school Ryan Brooks. “But he was like, ‘Either way, I made it.’”
“He wanted me to make the shot, even though they lost,” Beau said of Alvarez.
Alvarez didn’t completely lose.
Nor did his team.
Their victory was different.
“That will always be in my heart,” Alvarez said after the game. “That kid scoring and for me to give him that shot felt pretty cool.”