Wisconsin School for the Deaf wins regional basketball tournament
DELAVAN—Nothing seems out of the ordinary at Wisconsin School for the Deaf girls basketball games.
The Firebirds get no special accommodations when it comes to rules or how the game is officiated. The whistle blows for fouls, turnovers or timeouts, just like any other area high school game.
The only adjustment the school needs to make is figuring out where to hang the latest championship banner.
WSD won its second straight Central States Schools for the Deaf championship this past weekend. The Firebirds won two games in Flint, Mich., including a 50-45 upset win over the Indiana School for the Deaf in the title game.
First-year coach Matthew Eby, who is also the school’s athletic director, said playing the role of underdog fit his young team.
“We came into the championship game against Indiana with nothing to lose,” Eby said. “They are a very good team from a very big school. They have over 300 kids at their school, while we only have 100 or so.
“I gave our girls a little motivational talk in the third quarter of the championship game when we were down by three, and the girls really responded.”
The Firebirds’ roster features nine players from the state, including Janesville freshman Brianna Robertson. Senior point guard Kori Koss leads the team in scoring and had 29 points in the win against Indiana. She missed half of the season with an ankle injury and the team, according to Eby, struggled without her.
WSD entered last week’s tournament with a 4-6 record, while Indiana was 14-3. The Lady Firebirds beat the Ohio School for the Deaf in the semifinals.
The Lady Firebirds play next at the Midwest Regional Tournament in Missouri, and if they win that tournament, would advance to the National School for the Deaf Tournament.
“To be able to say that our school has won back-to-back Central State Schools for the Deaf titles is pretty special,” Eby said. “If we could win the tournament in Missouri, that would just be an added bonus.
“I’m so proud of this group and what they’ve done. For a school our size to do what we’ve done says a lot about the type of players and girls we have on the team. We play a pretty good brand of basketball.”