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Local Wheelchair Basketball Team Finishes Second In Nation
(Baltimore, MD) - After four days of intense competition at the National Wheelchair Basketball Association's (NWBA) 63rd annual National Championship Tournament, a team from Baltimore was named the second-best Varsity team in the country. The Bennett Blazers, named for a founding mentor and part of the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Physically Challenged Sports Program, competed alongside more than 700 of the best athletes with physical disabilities from across the U.S. who traveled to Denver to play in one of six divisions.
After beating 3 teams on the way to Sunday's championship game, the Bennett Blazers fell to the Nebraska Red Dawgs in overtime, 63-60.
Gail Gaeng, the championship game leading scorer with 16 points, was named All Tournament Female. Gaeng, a senior at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, Md., was also selected to the USA Under 25 Women's National Team and will play wheelchair basketball at the University of Illinois in the fall.
Point guard Ryan Neiswender, of Cedar Crest High School in Lebanon, Pa., had 14 points, 7 assists and 6 steals en route to being named 1st Team All Tournament and First Team Academic All American. Juwan Guy, a junior at Randallstown High School, was named 2nd Team All Tournament and offered a scholarship to play at the University of Texas Arlington.
Other members of the nationally recognized team include Hannah McFadden, a sophomore at River Hill High School in Clarksville; Ben Mayforth, a junior at Bel Air High School; and Seamus McNally of Severn, Maryland.
"These kids deserve a lot of credit for playing their hearts out and pushing for a win all the way through the final seconds," said Gerry Herman, Coach of the Bennett Blazers and Director of the Physically Challenged Sports Program at Kennedy Krieger Institute. "I couldn't be more proud of the team and what we accomplished this season."
Kennedy Krieger's Physically Challenged Sports Program gives kids with physical disabilities the opportunity to participate in more than a dozen therapeutic, recreational and competitive sports programs, including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair football, sled hockey, archery, swimming, track and field, and ice skating.
About the NWBA
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) is comprised of over 200 basketball teams within twenty-two conferences. The NWBA was founded in 1948 and today consists of men's, women's, intercollegiate, and youth teams throughout the United States of America and Canada. For more information, visit www.nwba.org.
About the Kennedy Krieger Institute
Internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord, the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD serves more than 16,000 individuals each year through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and community services and school-based programs. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children with developmental concerns mild to severe, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the understanding of how disorders develop while pioneering new interventions and earlier diagnosis. For more information on Kennedy Krieger Institute, visit www.kennedykrieger.org.