Category: Youth

Texas School for the Deaf Girls Upset in State Semifinals

2018-19 Texas School for the Deaf Girls Basketball


WACO – March 2 – Undefeated in 33 games, the Lady Rangers juggernaut left Texas School for the Deaf in Austin for Waco with the goal to improve on last year’s semifinal finish, but came up short in a devastating 55-52 setback at hands of 17-10 Lutheran High North (Houston) in the semifinals of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 4A state tournament.

“We really had the better team between the two of us,” says TSD head coach Brian Sipek. The Lady Rangers staked out a 15-14 first-quarter lead before miscues were capitalized by the Lady Lions who led 35-28 at the half. “Without making excuses, we found ourselves down only seven at halftime using a couple of backups,” Sipek notes. TSD had a starter struggling with a knee injury dating to February 23. Compounding woes was another starter in early foul trouble. Momentum were often offset by errors resulting in LHN scores. “We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot with missed layups and a few lazy transition defensive possessions,” Sipek explains.

Third-quarter action saw TSD cutting the deficit, however, still trailing, 44-42. TSD tied the game at 46-46 with 4:36 remaining in the fourth. LHN pulled ahead 54-52 with 1:11 left in the game as a critical timeout was called. Errors in crunch time all but sealed TSD’s fate. “Regardless, the girls battled until the very end and just came up three points short. It’s certainly a disheartening way to end a season knowing that we beat truly ourselves more than we lost to Lutheran High North,” concedes Sipek.

While the Lady Rangers’ season ended on the same note as last year, they achieved far more than any team in program history establishing national deaf school records especially the most wins in a season with 31 on the regular season and 33 on the overall with five invitational titles won before picking up a sixth capturing the TAPPS Class 4A District 4 regular season banner. Among possible national deaf school records is the longest winning streak pending research.

The Lady Rangers won the Best Pack Invitational, FEAST Invitational, Leopards Classic, New Eve Shootout, Clerc Classic, and the district regular season title. There could’ve been possibly four more wins with a sixth championship added to the haul but TSD’s South Congress Classic was cancelled due to facility renovations being done over the winter break.

Sipek reflects, “I’m just extremely proud of how well the girls represented Texas basketball, the school, and their community throughout the season. We truly felt the love as we got deeper into the season and I couldn’t have pictured a better group of girls to shine in the spotlight.” Before the playoffs, TSD head coach gave some thought on the lead-up, “The run we’re on this season is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Prior to the season, we had a coaches meeting discussing short- and long-term goals for the team. One of the long-term goals was to get back to Waco and (this time advancing to) the TAPPS 4A State Championship game.”

Sipek touts about the team’s basketball IQ and defensive-minded philosophy, “Looking up and down our schedule this year and the teams we’ve played, most of them have had their lowest offensive output against us. In practices, the team often breaks down opponents’ offensive tendencies and how to defend them. They talk and discuss scenarios among each other, which shows that their understanding of the game has evolved to the point where they can rely on each other and not so much on the coaches.”

Even with talent, the notion of going undefeated can be tough to grasp. Sipek contemplates the magnitude of TSD’s feat, “Being 31-0 and headed into the playoffs was certainly not something we had envisioned looking at the schedule we had before the season started.“ The Lady Rangers’ road to the Final Four had a formidable obstacle in Geneva School of Boerne, which TSD squeaked by, 30-29, in the regional playoffs after nearly blowing a 28-19 lead into the fourth quarter after Geneva went on a strong run tying the game at 29-29. The outcome wasn’t determined until a TSD sank a free throw with no time remaining on the clock following a defensive foul called on a potential TSD game-winning shot.

As TSD advanced to the semifinals, their story went far and wide being picked up by the local mainstream and national deaf media outlets. Sipek was amazed, “I told the team during one of our final practices that they have very little idea of how widespread their success this season has impacted the entire community coast to coast. Deaf schools in California and Indiana sent heartfelt wishes of luck prior to our trip to Waco. I shared some messages I received from random individuals calling and leaving videophone messages with support for the girls’ team.”

Among encouragement and support Sipek has received was a letter from the legendary Jerry English, who was inducted into the Texas Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000. English coached girls for 43 years at four schools from 1969-2000 and 2004-2017 amassing a 1,227-261 record, third most in the according to the NFHS national records. English took 19 different teams to state Final Fours with Dripping Springs winning UIL Class 3A in 1994 and Faith Academy of Marble Falls taking TAPPS Class 2A in 2014.

“The girls and the community will remember this season for a very long time. It is rare, as a coach, to find yourself in a position where you have the right pieces to fit a system you like and this season, we had that,” Sipek says while counting the many occasions TSD could’ve been defeated, “there were plenty of close calls but any team who spent the majority of the season being undefeated will usually have a few games where they ‘escaped’ and we certainly did.”

The Lady Rangers, helmed by head coach Sipek with assistant coaches Ashley Elliott and Sean Moore, were led by 5’5” senior guard Sunita Schmidjorg who represented USA Deaf Basketball as a contributor on the gold medal-winning United States team at the 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships. Joining Sunita on the US team was fellow TSD starter Michaela Kelley, a 6’0” junior forward. Leila Sicoli (5’4”, G, Sr.), Ashlene Etkie (5’6”, G, Jr.), and Kaci Ketchum (5’7”, G/F, Jr.) were the other starters. Reserves were Janelle Coons (5’7”, F, Jr.), Isadora Egbert (5’8”, G, Soph.), Ashley Harlicker (5’6”, G/F, Jr.), Brianne Leiker (5’8”, F, Jr.), Jewel Rocha (5’6”, G, Soph.) and Jayne Taylor (5’10”, F, Soph.). Precious Schwartz, senior, served as the team manager.

Starting with an eighth-ranking for the week of Nov. 4 in the TAPPS Class 4A poll conducted weekly by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, TSD steadily rose to the top ranking virtually on strength of its undefeated 31-0 regular season coupled with huge upsets causing shifts in the rankings regardless intangible indicators favoring three superior teams from North Texas. It was no coincidence LHN ranked ahead of TSD before settling among the bottom five.

TSD was challenged by worthy adversaries: twice by 32-11 FEAST HomeSchool (San Antonio), runners-up in the silver bracket at the competitive National Christian HomeSchool Basketball Big South regional and taking part in the 48-team NCHSB national tournament (3/11-14); twice by 22-8 Waldorf School (Austin), ranked  #3 in TAPPS 2A and state semifinalist; once by 24-11 Rosehill Christian School (Tomball), #5 TAPPS 3A/state semifinalist; four times by 22-12 Geneva School of Boerne, #6 TAPPS 4A/state quarterfinalist; once by 17-10 Lutheran High North (Houston) #5 TAPPS 4A/state finalist after defeating TSD; twice by 16-13 Brentwood Christian School (Austin), previously ranked in the top 10 for TAPPS 5A before placing third in TAPPS 5A-District 4 behind runners-up 21-8 Hyde Park Baptist School (Austin) #10 TAPPS 5A/state qualifier; and champions 17-6 Regents School of Austin, #5 TAPPS 5A/state semifinalist, the latter twice conquered by the Lady Rangers.

TSD defeated three among five of the top deaf school outfits: 13-8 Mississippi (34-20, Dec. 15); 26-4 California (Fremont), 43-23; and 24-3 Maryland, 47-36. The latter two triumphs occurred at the Clerc Classic held Jan. 19-21 at California School for the Deaf, Riverside. CSD won the Bay Counties League, CIF-North Coast Division VI championships, and qualified for the CIF-NorCal regional playoffs. MSD won the 7-team Maryland Independent Athletic Conference tournament. Rounding out is 15-9 Indiana, third place at Clerc Classic; and 20-6 Florida, the top-seed in the Mason-Dixon which prevailed 59-52 over second-seeded Mississippi for the Mason-Dixon title.

TSD will have a strong core, including six current juniors, returning next season and is expected to perform well. “We are losing some key leadership with the current seniors but I’m confident that we have a few dark horses to emerge next season,” Sipek assess while adding, “hopefully we will return to the Final Four next season and have a favorable result this time around.”

The future is bright for Lady Rangers basketball. As elementary and middle school athletic coordinator at TSD, Sipek notices talent emerging, “The key will be making sure that these youngsters have the right guidance to teach them the game of basketball as they move up and build a sense of familiarity with each other.” Sipek places the bigger picture, “At the same time, the ultimate goal is for them to have fun through playing basketball. I personally like what I see with the future of girls basketball at TSD.”

Since basketball was first played as an organized sport in 1905-06 at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan, there are numerous deaf school talent among boys and girls teams that have recorded upward to 29 wins during a season, but a rare few reached the 30-win plateau. TSD’s 33 wins tops the 32 victories racked up by Alabama School for the Deaf boys during the 1996-97 season. The Silent Warriors, coached by Don Hackney and Bert Haynes still hold the record for boys after compiling 32-2 and 31-2 records during a sensational two-year run where both teams reached the AHSAA Class 1A state semifinals before losing to eventual champions (1997) and runners-up (1998).

While TSD set the record for most wins (31) in a regular season, the Lady Rangers exceeded the current national deaf school record for the boys’ category. The 1964-65 basketball team at the defunct Texas Blind and Deaf School coached by Nathan Caldwell holds the record for most regular season wins with 30 pending research on whether TBDS won any in postseason play. From 1887 to 1965, TBDS operated as a school for colored pupils. In 1965, the Austin-based school closed its doors following court-ordered desegregation.

In the history of deaf school girls’ basketball, the 1982-83 Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf is the only school to win a state championship when it captured the NCHSAA Class A state title, a remarkable turnaround considering ENCSD didn’t win the Mason-Dixon Schools for the Deaf Athletic Association tournament as it went down in a semifinal upset on hands of eventual champion Alabama School for the Deaf.

On the boys side, the Nebraska School for the Deaf led by future coach Nick Petersen took consecutive NSAA state crowns in its classes during 1921-22 and 1922-23. In 1930-31 with Petersen as coach, NSD went undefeated in 25 outings during the regular season and picked up four more victories finishing 29-0 with the state championship at the 16-team all-class meet, the only in state history. The 1948-49 season witnessed 25-2 Arkansas School for the Deaf taking the Class B title at the AAA state tourney.

Chartered in 1978 with 20 schools, and recently becoming an affiliate member of the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations (NFHS), TAPPS membership grew to over 230 schools in six general classifications determined by high school enrollment. Single-gender school enrollments are double-counted. Due to rapid growth in the state, the TAPPS Class 1A alignment has over 50 schools that are projected for growth into the upper classifications while the TAPPS expands. The Class 4A alignment has 27 girls basketball teams fielded by schools with enrollments ranging from 141 to 217. Neither a private nor a parochial school, TSD is one of three independent state-funded and operated schools holding membership in the TAPPS.

TAPPS Class 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament Results
District-Placement (Final Record) School

Play-in Game – February 17
D5-2 (18-13) John Paul II Catholic High School (Schertz) 64
at D4-3 (12-13) Hill Country Christian School (Austin) 28

Area Playoff (State Round of 16) – February 19
D3-2 (17-15) All Saints Episcopal School (Tyler) 57
at D2-2 (15-13) Coram Deo Academy (Flower Mound) 37

D3-3 (12-8) Shelton School (Dallas) 28
at D1-1 (30-11) Trinity Christian School (Lubbock) 83

D1-2 (29-12) Lubbock Christian School 65
at D2-1 (24-8) Covenant Christian School (Colleyville) 35

D2-3 (16-13) Trinity Christian Academy (Willow Park) 24
at D3-1 (19-13) Grace Preparatory Academy (Arlington) 56

D6-2 (7-11) St. Thomas Episcopal School (Houston) 26
at D4-1 (33-1) Texas School for the Deaf (Austin) 69

D7-2 (13-13) The Woodlands Christian Academy 48
at D5-1 (22-12) Geneva School of Boerne 77

D4-2 (17-15) Reicher Catholic High School (Waco) 52
at D6-1 (18-10) Bay Area Christian School (League City) 47

D5-2 (18-13) John Paul Catholic II High School (Schertz) 46
at D7-1 (17-10) Lutheran High North (Houston) 62

Regional Playoff (State Quarterfinals) – February 23 – Neutral Sites
All Saints Episcopal School (Tyler) 34
Trinity Christian School (Lubbock) 80

Lubbock Christian School 61
Grace Preparatory Academy (Arlington) 23

Texas School for the Deaf (Austin) 30
Geneva School of Boerne 29

Reicher Catholic High School (Waco) 78
Lutheran High North (Houston) 52

State Semifinals – March 1 – Waco
Trinity Christian School (Lubbock) 69
Lubbock Christian School 60

Texas School for the Deaf (Austin) 52
Lutheran High North (Houston) 55

State Finals – March 2 – Waco
Trinity Christian School (Lubbock) 72
Lutheran High North (Houston) 34

Story contributed by Robert Alfred Hawkins
Photo credit: Texas School for the Deaf

New Mexico Deaf School Varsity Boys Making Headlines!

The New Mexico School for the Deaf boy’s basketball team made history last Saturday night (March 2nd) by claiming back to back District title.

Yesterday, for the first time in school HISTORY, our New Mexico School for the Deaf boy’s basketball won beat # 10 Vaughn HS in 1st round at State tournament. 69-58.

Kitty Baldridge, former Gallaudet University basketball head coach, in the middle of picture, was present to support our boys. Kitty who also coached Letty, current NMSD head coach. Thank you Kitty! 

Next quarterfinal game vs # 2 Fort Sumner HS at 8:15pm on Wednesday night. Let’s go, NMSD Roadrunner!! #NMSD #LetsRide#NMSDRoadrunner

More info: Check out Class 1A bracket through MaxPreps:…/2019-nmaa-state-basketball-champi…

Led by Perry and Neild’s Double-Doubles, USA Defeats Japan 79 – 63 in Gold Medal Game

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

USA Under-21 Men’s Basketball Team Claims Third Straight Gold in 81 – 63 Defeat of Japan

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

Kevin Kovacs and Lindsay Stergio to Head USA U20 and U21 Teams throughout 2018

Kevin Kovacs

Kevin Kovacs

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,

Felluga, Dino. Survey of the Literature of England. Purdue U, Aug. 2006, Accessed 31 May 2007. English Department. Purdue U, 20 Apr. 2009,

Lindsay Stergio

Lindsay Stergio

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 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, Gallaudet Athletics. Gallaudet University, 15, July 2015,