Gusties Win Second Annual MIAC Special Olympics Unified Basketball Tournament

Posted on April 10th, 2017 by

Release courtesy of Sheridan Blanchard, MIAC Office

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) partnered with Special Olympics Minnesota to put on the 2017 MIAC Special Olympics Unified Basketball Tournament to end NCAA Division III week on a high note. This was the second-annual Unified Basketball Tournament at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

The 2017 MIAC Special Olympics D-III Week Unified Basketball Tournament featured eight teams and numerous volunteers represented by 10 MIAC schools, with more than 100 combined MIAC student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes that were paired together to build friendships and compete on the court. The Gustavus Gusties along with their Special Olympics teammates won all three of its games, including a 64-49 win over Augsburg in the championship game.

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The Gusties defeated the St. Olaf Oles team in the semifinals 53-41, and came out with a bang in the opening-round, to get a 64-42 win over St. Thomas. Due to their hardwork and team effort, Gustavus became the winner of the MIAC Special Olympics Unified Championship Trophy, which will be presented to the champion at all MIAC Unified events.

After falling in last year’s tournament, the St. Thomas Tommie’s came back for vengeance. In the first round, after losing to the Gusties, St. Thomas rallied to win its next two games and claim the consolation title, including a 48-42 consolation semifinal win over Carleton and a 54-45 victory over Hamline in the consolation championship.

While the action on the court was certainly entertaining, the mission of the tournament was about much more than the scoreboard and it was accomplished in a big way. The MIAC blazed the trail for conference-wide Unified Basketball Tournaments in 2017, with the first known event of its kind in Division III and beyond. According to research, it’s also just the second conference-wide Unified tournament of any kind, alongside the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s Unified Bowling Tournament.

Macalester’s Leonard Center Fieldhouse was a perfect setting for the tournament, with a festive atmosphere and supportive fans in attendance. In addition to more than 50 MIAC student-athletes that played in the tournament, there were also more than 15 student-athletes who volunteered their time to set up, clean up, officiate or work the scorer’s table.

Sunday marked the final day of NCAA Division III Week around the nation. The MIAC’s Unified Tournament definitely served as a fitting conclusion to the week-long celebration, while simultaneously continuing an outstanding MIAC tradition.

The MIAC sincerely thanks all of its outstanding student-athletes who played in the tournament, worked as a volunteer, or attended as a spectator. The conference also thanks Special Olympics Minnesota and its athletes, staff and spectators along with Macalester College and the Scots’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for opening its doors to host for the second time and all of their effort required to host the event.

MIAC Release

 

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