It’s Christmas morning at Kentucky School for the Deaf, and all of the presents are basketballs.
The basketball tournament that officials at KSD have been planning for a year, the 57th Mason-Dixon Boys Basketball Tournament, tips off this morning at Thomas Hall with the first of 17 games over three days.
It’s the most important event on the KSD basketball schedule each year, as the Colonels compete against 10 other Southern schools for the deaf. And as the school hosts this event for the first time since 1998, its players would like nothing better than to keep the championship trophy from leaving town.
The KSD boys, 7-6 and winners of four of their last five games, are bona fide contenders for the championship. They have a veteran team and are seeded third in the 11-team field. The Colonels have only two titles in 56 years, in 1995 and ’98, and they haven’t made the semifinals since 2004.
The Colonels play their first game at 4 p.m. today against the winner of an earlier game between No. 6 seed Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf and No. 11 seed Mississippi School for the Deaf. A win would put them in Friday night’s semifinals with a shot at the Saturday night championship game.
The basketball tournament is the largest part of an event that also includes shooting and cheerleading competitions, as well as time for the players and cheerleaders from the schools to meet and mingle. (KSD athletic director and former boys basketball coach Billy Lange, a 1981 graduate of Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, first met wife Amy at a Mason-Dixon tourney.) KSD has done a first-rate job hosting this event in years past and will certainly do its best to make its visitors feel at home this weekend.
If you’d like to check it out, admission is $5 per session — there are usually at least two games per session but sometimes just one — or $35 for the entire tournament.
While the KSD boys get to stay home and play, the school’s girls team will play in their version of the MDT in Spartanburg, S.C. (KSD will next host the girls tournament in 2012.) The girls team, which is 0-9 this season, is seeded 11th and plays No. 6 seed Louisiana School for the Deaf at 8:45 a.m. today.
Read more on the Mason-Dixon tourneys and the conference at its Web page and follow the action from Danville and Spartanburg at their respective sites. Both pages have rosters and detailed schedules:
- The boys page, which promises live video feeds and scoring from each of the 17 games.
- The girls page, where scores will be posted regularly on the scores page.