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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: Robert Skinner, of Gilbert, is the 2012-2013 Register …

Douglass is sad to see Skinner leave but is excited for what the future holds for him.

“I am so glad he’s going to continue his career,” said Douglass. “I’ll be watching.”

During his senior season at Gilbert High School, Robert Skinner scored a lot of points, leading the Berkshire League in scoring this past season, with 22.5 points-per-game, but this season took more of a mental toll then past seasons.

“It was definitely a roller coaster of a season,” said Skinner, who played most of this past season with injuries, capped by a concussion that had him miss the final five games of the season.

“This season was more about how much people cared about my wellbeing,” said Skinner. “People would come up to me and told me not to play because I have a bright future.”

Gilbert head coach, Mark Douglass knew that it was tough for Skinner to sit out those games, but his future was more important.

“I know it was tough on him, he doesn’t like to miss games,” said Douglass. “We told him that he has a bright future ahead of him.”

After a successful junior season, where Skinner helped lead Gilbert to the Berkshire League Championship, he had the ability to repeat that this season.

“I definitely wanted to win the BL’s again,” said Skinner. “We had a strong preseason and I knew that we would have a good year.”

The Yellow Jackets started the season off going 11-3 in their first 14 games of the season. They then finished the year 3-3, before losing to Thomaston in the first round of the Berkshire League tournament and then to Weaver, again in the first round, in the Class S State Tournament.

Though the season finished on a sour note, Skinner still enjoyed his last season.

“I still had fun,” said he said. “It was tough though.”

This wasn’t the first time that Skinner faced adversity in his life. When he was five years-old Skinner had cancer.

“I had cancer in 1999 in my right leg,” said Skinner. “It lasted for a year; it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.”

That didn’t stop Skinner, even at a young age.

“It didn’t affect me right after,” he said. “Right after I finished with it, I got into youth football, nothing held me back.”

It was those experiences that made Skinner such a well-liked player on and off the court.

“He has had to overcome some stuff,” said Douglass. “That’s where I think his desire and love for the game of basketball comes from. He is always upbeat and always wants to excel.”

Douglass noticed those qualities early on when he decided to give Skinner the keys to the Gilbert boys’ basketball program when he was just a freshman.

“When he came up as a freshman, he had the qualities, he wanted to be better, he wanted to help his teammates get better,” said Douglass, who said Gilbert was coming off one of the programs worst seasons, when Skinner got to high school. “I told him he would run the team, it was his team now. It was a lot to ask of him, it could have gone either way.”

Gilbert got better every year, Skinner was there.

With all the wins and awards Skinner earned, including the First-Team Berkshire League team, his favorite memory from his senior year was his team’s 81-80 loss at Torrington High School on January 19.

“It was definitely the Torrington game, everyone said they would beat us,” said Skinner. “We lost by one and I scored 41 points.”

In the game between Class S Gilbert and Class L Torrington, Skinner has ice in his veins in the final minute.

With 1:15 left on the clock down 75-72, Skinner nailed a three-pointer to tie the game up at 75-75.

Then with his team down 78-75 with 34 seconds left, Skinner hit a layup to pull his team within one point 78-77.

After Torrington went to the free-throw line and hit both of them Skinner again hit a three-pointer, this time with two Red Raider defenders on him, to tie the game up at 80-80.

“My jump shot was working,” he said. “I was just staying aggressive from the beginning of the game.”

After Torrington hit one free throw, it was Skinner who got the ball with the game on the line. This time the shot didn’t fall as Skinner’s shot hit the backboard and then the front of the rim.

“He put the team on his back in that game,” said Douglass. “That game opened a lot of eyes, for Gilbert and for him.”

Next season, Skinner will be attending the Community College of Rhode Island.

“I am going to a junior college CCRI,” said Skinner. “I am going to shoot for Division I.”

Douglass is sad to see Skinner leave but is excited for what the future holds for him.

“I am so glad he’s going to continue his career,” said Douglass. “I’ll be watching.”

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