The USA defeated Japan by a score of 79 – 63 in the Gold Medal game of the 2018 Women’s U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships on the Donald Padden Court at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The USA team was led by the outstanding inside game of Cassidy Perry (Frederick, MD), who grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 28 points as they were able to triumph over Japan.
In the opening minutes of the game, the USA defense jumped out in front, taking charge as they held Japan scoreless for the first two-and-a-half minutes of the game. The USA took the early lead, going up 10 – 4 after a series of inside-outside combo moves between Emelia Beldon (Frederick, MD) and Cassidy Perry (Frederick, MD). Beldon would go on to score 5 points and had no turnovers while dishing out 2 assists in the first. Perry would lead the USA in scoring during the first quarter with 10 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting from the field.
Though the USA scorers were able to shoot an efficient 50 percent overall from the field, their outside game was shut down as they went 0-for-4 from the perimeter; in previous games, the deadly outside shooting of USA was a large part of why they were able to build large leads early on in games. The headstrong and tenacious defense of Japan’s guards/wings were able to hold Hannah Neild (Litchfield, NH), one of the USA’s most explosive scorers in recent history, to just 2 points on 1-for-3 shooting from the field in the first quarter. By playing tenaciously on the defensive end, Japan was able to even gain the lead late in the first quarter, leading by 1 after Japan’s Hirayasu Ayane swished a nothing-but-net three pointer on a transition play with just under a minute left. The USA was able to close out the first with two quick baskets, the first by Neild inside the paint off of an assist by Beldon that made the score 17 – 16 in favor of USA. Then on the USA’s next trip back down the floor on offense, Beldon made a strong inside move, drawing the foul and then sinking both ensuing free throws to make the score 19 – 16 just as the first quarter drew to a close.
Japan would open the second quarter by responding quickly on the offensive end, with a long-range shot by Miyake Nagisa that made the score 19 – 19 with 9:30 left in the first half. That would pose to be the last time Japan would be on the cusp of taking the lead, for the explosive USA offense would go on to seize momentum and establish a firm fifteen-point lead before halftime. With the score tied up, Neild swished a long three-pointer to give the USA the 22-19 lead. On Japan’s next offensive possession, Neild would steal the ball then find a streaking Beldon on the fast break who in turn, dished to a slashing Sumita Schmidjorg (Austin, TX) who sank her layup while drawing the foul. Schmidjorg would go on to sink her and-1 free throw to make the score 25 – 19 in favor of the USA.
With a six-point lead, the USA would not rest on their laurels, playing intense defense and executing on the offensive end. After getting yet another stop on defense, Rajena Guettler (Frederick, MD) made a nice pass inside to Perry, who used a nice drop-step dribble to get around her defender and score. Then on their next possession, Neild grabbed a nice offensive rebound and put the ball back up to make give the USA a ten-point cushion with a 29 – 19 score and a bit over seven minutes remaining in the half.
The USA defense would not allow Japan to score again until the 5:52 mark, when the quick-footed Ayane sped past the USA defense for a fast break layup to make the score 29 – 21. These type of scoring runs would persist throughout the rest of the half as the USA offense made it a focal point to keep feeding Perry inside the post. Perry would finish the first half with a total of 20 points on a red-hot 10-for-12 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds. When the defense for Japan collapsed on Perry inside the paint, Beldon and Neild were waiting on the perimeter to make use of their deadly three-point shooting abilities. By the end of the first half, the USA defense had tightened their clamps on the Japan offense, limiting Japan to just 29 percent from the field. The USA would go into halftime leading over Japan by fifteen, 45 – 30.
The third quarter opened with the USA’s Lauren Chadwick (Gardiner, ME) grabbing an offensive rebound and then scoring a quick put-back bucket to extend their lead even further. Japan would prove to hang tough, however, catching up to within a ten-point window of opportunity until Neild and Schmidjorg promptly shut it closed with three consecutive three-pointers that made the score 58 – 39 with under six minutes remaining to play in the third quarter. Schmidjorg would go on to provide key outside shooting in the third quarter and was a spark off the bench when the USA offense needed it most. She was a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe and was 50 percent on 2-for-4 shooting from three-point land. She hit her second three-pointer when there was just over four minutes to play that made the score 63 – 41 in favor of USA.
Despite being down by as much as 24 points in the third quarter, Japan refused to quit. They were able to catch a bit of momentum, closing the final minutes of the quarter out on a 8-to-2 run. By the end of the third quarter, the USA was ahead by sixteen, with a 65 – 49 lead over Japan.
The final ten minutes was a close one as Japan and USA tied for scoring in the quarter with 14 points scored by each team. The USA shot 31 percent from the field on 5-for-16 shooting, were unable to hit any of their attempted three-pointers and sank 4 of their 8 free throw attempts. Japan shot 26 percent from the field on 6-for-23 shooting, sank 2 of their attempted 14 three-pointers (that’s not a typo – Japan attempted three-pointers at a pace akin to the state of modern day basketball with 37 attempts from long range), and was unable to hit their only free throw attempt for the quarter.
In the end, the steady perimeter play of guards Beldon (15 points, 9 assists, 1 steal) and Schmidjorg (11 points, 2 assists, 1 steal) along with the double-doubles by USA’s Perry (28 points, 13 rebounds) and Neild (15 points, 13 rebounds) proved to be too much for Japan to overcome. While Japan played suffocating defense that caused the USA to turn the ball over sixteen times and were carried by the double-double of Numaguchi Saya (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Maruyama Kaori’s team high of 28 points, the deeply talented USA team was able to keep them at bay. At the end of regulation, the final score was 79 – 63.
Game Notes / Awards: Two USA players earned accolades for their performances this week. Cassidy Perry was named Most Valuable Player of the Women’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships. Hannah Neild was named to the Best Five team for the Women’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships (the five strongest overall performers in the tournament were selected for this award).
Game Note / Key Stat Leaders:
USA: Beldon (15 pts, 5-8 FG, 1-2 3pt FG, 3 Reb, 9 Ast, 2 TO, 1 Stl), Chadwick (8 pts, 4-12 FG, 0-6 3pt FG, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 TO, 2 Stl), Perry (28 pts, 14-20 FG, 13 Reb, 3 TO), Neild (15 pts, 5-13 FG, 3-7 3pt FG, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 TO, 2 Blk, 3 Stl), Schmidjorg (11pts, 3-8 FG, 2-4 3pt FG, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 TO, 1 Stl)
JPN: Ayane (13 pts, 6-11 FG, 1-3 3pt FG, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 TO), Kaori (20 pts, 6-22 FG, 3-12 3pt FG, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 TO, 3 Stl), Saya (16 pts, 6-21 FG, 1-10 3pt FG, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 TO, 1 Blk, 2 Stl)
Game Notes / Coaches: Oga Reiko is the head coach for Japan and is Nakano Eri the assistant coach. Lindsay Stergio is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are Victorica Monroe and Laura Edwards.
Credit: Stephen Farias
The USA defeated Japan by a score of 81 – 63 in the Gold Medal game of the 2018 Men’s U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships on the Donald Padden Court at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The USA team defense was able to overcome a scorching performance by Japan’s Kazuma Tsuya, who scored nailed 6 three pointers on his way to 38 points. Tsuya, who plays professional basketball in Japan and played in the 2017 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup, is a 6’2” wing player who can do it all – be it running the fast break and stopping on a dime to pull up for a three-pointer or using his excellent footwork in the post with his back to the basket against smaller-sized defenders – and his talents were on full display in tonight’s Gold Medal game.
The first quarter got off to a rousing start as there were three lead changes and at one point, Japan held the lead for over three minutes of length. However, once the USA defense got going, they were able to throttle the Japan offense, holding Japan to 38 percent from the field. While Tsuya was able to efficiently start the game with a 9 point scoring performance on 4 for 6 shooting, the rest of his team went 2 for 12 and struggled to get going against the intense pressure coming from the USA defense. The aggressive USA defense forced 4 turnovers and scored 8 points off of these turnovers in the first quarter. On offense, USA was paced by the scoring efforts of Tajah Fraley’s (Greenville, SC) 8 points and Rogers Printup’s (Orange, CA) 6 points. Fraley, who also grabbed 7 rebounds in the first quarter, was able to efficiently score by slashing to through the Japan defense and using his natural length to tip in one layup after another. By the end of the first quarter, the USA held a 22 – 15 lead over Japan, leading by 7.
During the second quarter, the vaunted USA offense made an appearance once again, as Noah Valencia (Riverside, CA) was an outstanding facilitator in his role as point guard and led an offense that shot a scorching 75 percent from the field on 12 for 16 shooting. Led by the play of Valencia, the offensive consistency of Fraley, and the resurgence of returning big man Jason Boateng (Dublin, OH), who had been out the last few games with a virus and was a physical force in the paint tonight, the USA offense was able to score 26 points in the second quarter on their way to a 48 – 24 halftime lead.
During halftime, Japan head coach Yoritaka Ueda must have delivered an inspiring motivational talk because in the third quarter, Japan came out and fought back against the USA team, outscoring USA by five in the quarter. The Japan defense, led by the play of Tsuya and Ryosuke Mitsui, held the USA offense to just 30 percent from the field and forced USA into making 4 turnovers in the quarter. On offense, Tsuya continued to remain hot from the field for Japan, knocking down 2 three-pointers on his way to scoring 10 points in the quarter. The way Tsuya was able to pull up for three was a majestic sight to behold. Watching him orchestrate the Japan offense felt like things were in slow-motion, he would pull off a crossover then a behind-the-back dribble which led to another crossover that put his defender on their heels. Then, as his defender would desperately try to recover with an extended arm in his face, Tsuya would rise up in front of them like a juggernaut, utilizing his picture-perfect shooting form as he made his way towards releasing the ball at the height of his jump. More often than not, the result of his shots were nothing-but-net swishes that lapped with the sound of rain hitting an umbrella. Tsuyua’s kinds of shots were what playground ballers refer to when they say they’re “making it rain” out there. Alas, despite Tsuya’s awe-inspiring performance and even-though Japan was able to outscore USA by five in the third, Japan was still down 62 – 39 at the start of the fourth quarter.
The final quarter of the game saw Japan continue to fight hard and outscore the USA team yet again, but not by enough to overcome the large lead established in the first half by the USA. Tsuya continued to give it his all, nailing two more three pointers on his way to scoring 14 points in the quarter on 50 percent shooting from the field. For the USA, Fraley and Printup paced the team in the fourth, combining to score 8 points and grab 6 rebounds. The final score resulted in an 18-point USA victory over Japan with a score of 81 – 63.
Game Notes / Awards: Japan’s Kazuma Tsuya was named Most Valuable Player of the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships. USA’s Rogers Printup was named to the Best Five team for the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships (the five strongest overall performers in the tournament were selected for this award).
Game Note / Key Stat Leaders:
USA: Edwards (12 pts, 6-11 FG, 6 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 TO, 1 Stl), Fraley (19 pts, 9-17 FG< 1-3 3pt FG, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 TO, 4 Stl), Printup (18 pts, 9-16 FG, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 5 TO, 1 Blk, 1 Stl), Valencia (7 pts, 3-10 FG, 1-7 3pt FG, 5 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 Stl)
JPN: Echizen (5 pts, 1-9 FG, 2-2 FT, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 TO, 4 Stl), Tsuya (38 pts, 14-30 FG, 6-15 3pt FG, 4-6 FT, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 TO, 2 Blk, 1 Stl), Nagata (16 pts, 5-18 FG, 1-7 3pt FG, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 TO, 1 Stl)
Game Notes / Coaches: Yoritaka Ueda is the head coach for Japan and Keisuke Hamada is the assistant coach. Kevin Kovacs is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are John Perry and Keith Westhoelter.
Credit: Stephen Farias
Gallaudet University’s Kevin Kovacs has been selected as the men’s basketball head coach for the U-20 and U-21 teams that will compete for the gold in Bolivia in October 2017 and Washington D.C. in July 2018, respectively.
Kovacs, in his second year as the Bison’s head coach, led Gallaudet to 20-6 record this season, a school record for the most wins in a season. Under Kovacs, the 2016-2017 Bisons earned their first ever NEAC Men’s Basketball South Division regular season championship, which is by far, Gallaudet’s most successful season in their men’s basketball history.
Kovacs’ efforts in building Gallaudet’s team defense has elevated Gallaudet as one of the Division III top programs. Gallaudet men’s team is ranked No.3 in NCAA Division III for field goal percentage defense (36.7) and 3-point field goal defense (28.8). The Bisons are also ranked seventh in defensive rebounds per game (31.36) and ninth in blocks (134) and blocks per game (5.4). In addition to the team’s success, Kovacs’ peers voted him the NEAC Coach of the Year.
Kovacs arrived Gallaudet from California School for the Deaf-Fremont where he was Athletic Director for eight years (2007-15) and served as the boys’ basketball head coach the last two years of his career there. He was named Coach of the Year after California School for the Deaf-Fremont won the North Coast section title in 2014.
Kovacs is no stranger to international basketball. He served as an assistant coach to former Gallaudet University Head Coach and current Maryland School for the Deaf James DeStefano, on the USA Deaf Basketball men’s team that earned a silver medal at the 2015 World Deaf Basketball Championships in Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Kovacs graduated from Gallaudet in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in government and secondary education. Two years later, he earned his master’s in deaf education. As an undergraduate he played one season for the Gallaudet men’s basketball team in 1994-95. He served as a Gallaudet men’s basketball assistant coach for two seasons (1995-97).
Kovacs is married to Estella Bustamante, who graduated from Gallaudet in 1991, and they have two children (Esteban and Estelina).
Sources: Gallaudet Athletics. Gallaudet University, 23 Feb. 2017 and 15, July 2015, www.gallaudetathletics.com
Felluga, Dino. Survey of the Literature of England. Purdue U, Aug. 2006, web.ics.purdue.edu/~felluga/241/241/Home.html. Accessed 31 May 2007. English Department. Purdue U, 20 Apr. 2009, www.cla.purdue.edu/english/.
USA Deaf Basketball is proud to announce Lindsay Stergio as their head coach for the U-20 and U-21 women’s teams. This will be Stergio’s first stint as a head coach at any level, although she brings a wealth of experience to her new job. Stergio is currently in her third year as an assistant coach for the Maryland School for the Deaf girls’ basketball team.
A native of Montville, Conn., Stergio began her collegiate basketball career at Southern Connecticut State University (Div. II) as a freshman and continued her athletic career as a sophomore at Eastern Connecticut State University (Div. III). Stergio transferred for the third time, this time to Gallaudet University, where she closed out her illustrious career as a two-year starter for the Bison team under Coach Stephanie Stevens.
In her final year of college play, Stergio played in 26 games for the 2013-2014 Bison team and averaged 18.7 points per game, 3.1 assists per game and 1.2 steals per game. She finished the season with 487 points, 261 rebounds, 80 assists, 32 steals and 14 blocks. Nationally, she ranked 41st in the country for points per game (18.7) and 31st in double-doubles (14). Stergio led the Bisons in five different statistical categories and ranks in the Top 10 for eight different NEAC statistical categories. Stergio scored double digits in 25 games, 14 of those she reached 20 points or more and had 14 double-doubles.
Lindsay was named to the 2013-14 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III upstate Women’s Basketball All-Star second team. Stergio was the only North eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) player to earn ECAC All-Star status. She was also honored as an NEAC Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete of the week on the week of February 10 and was named to the D3 hoops.com All-Atlantic Third Team.
Stergio’s exposure to deaf international basketball began when her mother encouraged her to attend the tryout showcase for the U.S.A. Deaflympics women’s basketball team in Las Vegas, Nevada in the summer of 2012. There, Stergio got her first taste of competing against deaf and hard of hearing basketball players from across the country. Her mother’s advice paid off, as Stergio was the starting forward for the 2013 USA Deaf Basketball women’s team in Sofia, Bulgaria. There, she and the USA women’s squad recaptured the gold medal in Sofia, Bulgaria, that USA had lost four years earlier at the 2009 Deaflympics.
In July 2014, Lindsay was selected to travel with the USA Division III basketball team as they competed in Brazil against professional basketball players.
After graduating cum laude from Gallaudet University in May 2015, Stergio continued her international basketball career by being selected to the 2015 USA Women’s National Team for the World Deaf Basketball Championships in Taoyuan, Taiwan. In Taiwan, she led her team to the gold medal and earned MVP honors, the highest honor bestowed on any player on the international level.
Stergio will be graduating with a master’s degree in Public Administration from Gallaudet University on May 11, 2017.
Sources: Gallaudet Athletics. Gallaudet University, 23 Feb. 2017, www.gallaudet.edu/athletics Gallaudet Athletics. Gallaudet University, 15, July 2015, www.gallaudet.edu/athletics.