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Keene State Hosts Tip-off Basketball Tournaments

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KEENE, N.H. 11/15/04 - Keene State College men’s and women’s basketball teams will begin their 2004-05 seasons with tip-off tournaments this weekend at Spaulding Gymnasium.

The ninth annual Keene State women’s basketball tournament gets the action going on Friday with the hosts facing Lasell College at 3 p.m. Curry College of Milton, Mass., will go up against St. Joseph’s College of Brooklyn N.Y at 7 p.m. in the other opening round game. The consolation and championship games are scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. respectively.

The fifth annual Keene State men’s basketball tournament also gets started on Friday. Keene State plays its season-opener against Fitchburg State at 9 p.m. The earlier game has Salve Regina University of Newport, R.I., battling Maine- Machias at 5 p.m. The Tournament concludes with consolation (5 p.m.) and championship (7 p.m.) contests on Saturday.

“I think it’s going to be a great afternoon and evening of basketball for the community,” said KSC women’s coach Keith Boucher, whose Owls have captured their tournament in all but one year. “We’ve been pretty successful, “said Boucher. “This tournament should be interesting with three new teams competing.”

Returning to the court following an 11-14 season, the Owls hope to get off on the right foot with a pair of home victories. “Having our first two games at home is a big plus,” said Boucher. “Hopefully we’ll go out and play like it’s our house.” The Owls defeated St. Joseph’s of Maine (67-53) in last year title game.

Owl fans might need some time getting to know the 2004-05 Keene State men’s team. With the loss of many of the players that carried KSC to the elite eight of last year’s NCAA Tournament, Rob Colbert and his staff know they must practice patience.

We’re going to be a work in progress for some time,” acknowledged Colbert. “I’m excited about the talent and energy on the court, we just need a little time to play together.”

Expected to help fill the scoring void, junior forward Sean Sullivan likes what he’s seen of the new players. “The freshmen seem to be more athletic and quicker,” he said. “They can get up-and-down the floor and put up a lot of three-point shots. It should be fun.”

Keene State, which has claimed every tip-off championship, won last year’s tournament with an 87-67 victory over Maine-Machias.

The Keene State College women’s and men’s basketball teams are faced with the challenge of beginning another grueling season with the start of this weekend’s KSC Tip-Off Tournament. However, their challenge pales before the obstacle confronted by seven-month-old Robert Francis Petitto, affectionately known as “Bobby.”

Bobby, the son of KSC campus security officer John Petitto and his wife Tracey, was born with an extensive lymphatic malformation of his right upper extremity, chest wall, and back. The malfunction is a rare, congenital condition that causes localized swelling, and in Bobby’s case, extensive enlargement of soft tissue and bones.

“About one in 6,000 children is affected with this malformation; it’s very rare,” said Tracey, a music teacher at Angier Elementary in Newton, Mass. “However, there are no statistics for an abnormality as severe as Bobby’s. It’s usually just in a small part of the body.”

Bobby’s malformation is so extensive that treatment is needed to save the function of his right hand and arm. Traveling from their home in Marlborough, N.H., to the Vascular Anomalies Clinic at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., on a weekly basis, the Petittos incur upwards of $300 per month in traveling expenses alone. Bobby also receives in-home nursing care, and has started working with a physical therapist.

“We learned of this situation from Amanda Warman, KSC’s Director of Campus Safety, and wanted to assist in any way that we could,” said KSC assistant athletic director and head men’s basketball coach Rob Colbert. “After speaking with the head women’s basketball coach, Keith Boucher, we decided to collect donations at this weekend’s tournament to help defray traveling cost, medical fees, and other miscellaneous expenses the Petittos may accrue.”

In addition to Bobby’s lymphatic malformation, he has also been diagnosed with Type G Immunoglobulin Deficiency, which means he has no protection from bacteria and viruses. Soon, he will begin therapy along with long-term use of antibiotics that will keep him clear of life-threatening infections.

“Bobby’s prognosis is excellent, as long as he doesn’t get sick,” said Tracey. “He’ll need constant treatment and management of his condition for the next five to 10 years, but luckily, he is a very happy baby; it will serve him well over the next couple of years.”

Donations can be made at the ticket booth of the KSC women’s and men’s basketball games on Friday (3 p.m. - 9 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m. - 7 p.m.), with the women playing the earlier games. John, Tracey and Bobby Petitto will be at the men’s basketball game on Saturday (7 p.m.) to show their appreciation to Keene State College and the community for its continued support. If you are interested in contributing to this cause, checks can be made payable to:

KSC Athletics - John Petitto, and mailed to Keene State College, c/o Rob Colbert, 229 Main Street, Keene, N.H. 03435.

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229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435