Basketball league showcases talents of those with special needs

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LEBURN, Ky. (WYMT) -- There's a new basketball league in eastern Kentucky that will help show off talents and skills for people with special needs.

Mending Hearts, based in Perry County, Kentucky, organized the league. Earlier this week, the Mending Hearts Mustangs faced off against the Treasured Friends Young Guns. The Young Guns are comprised of the Treasured Friends agency, along with East Kentucky Support Services.

Last week marked the first time competing and now they're looking for more competition.

"We're hoping that by doing this, other leagues in the community will come out and join with us," said Mending Hearts Executive Director Sherlyn Perkins.

Teams meet at the Knott County Sportsplex every Wednesday. Coach Ricky Turner said his Mustangs worked very hard in anticipation for some competition.

"Really, what makes me excited is seeing the guys having fun and becoming closer as teammates," said Turner.

Dominique Smith and Raymond Hall are best friends who play for the Mustangs together. They said they're pretty good and so is the rest of their team.

"They're real good. We're all family. We all got each other's backs. If they need help, we help them out," said Smith.

For others like Zach Manns, who plays for the Young Guns, the game plays as an escape.

"It helps me with my stress and everything," said Manns.

Although officials do keep score, leaders said it's not about what happens on the floor, it's about what players gain off the court.

"It really instills encouragement. It encourages them to be better people. It helps them to be a bigger part of their community," said Coach Turner.

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