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Owls in Autism Support Basketball Classic

KEENE, N.H., 12/1/08 - Following its Thanksgiving break, the Keene State men’s basketball team returns to the court on Tuesday to play in the Jacob’s Bridge Through Autism Basketball Classic at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. The Owls (3-2) will face New England College (1-5) at 5:30 p.m. while Plymouth State (2-2) takes on Colby-Sawyer (2-2).

“It’s a tournament we look forward to playing in every year,” said KSC Coach Rob Colbert. “Having four in-state teams together in one venue is a nice opportunity to showcase Division III basketball. Many of the players know each other, so that certainly adds to the competitive nature of the games.”

The Owls have had their share of memorable tournament moments. In 2005, David Sontag buried a three-pointer with three seconds to play to lift KSC to a dramatic 81-80 win over Colby-Sawyer. In 2006, Tyler Kathan pulled down 16 rebounds to tie the tournament record. Last year, KSC defeated Colby-Sawyer 76-60.

However, the tournament, which began in 2001, isn’t just about basketball. It’s also an opportunity to spread awareness about autism, a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

Jacob’s Bridge Through Autism was founded by PSU Coach John Scheinman and his wife Susan after their son Jacob was diagnosed at age two. They were left with a diagnosis, but no true path to take. “We had so many roadblocks in our way, but knew there was something out there for our son,” writes Susan Scheinman on their website “Along the way we found many people to help us lead the way. Our son Jacob will always be autistic, but he is priceless. Over the past nine years we have found many doctors, therapies, and other interventions to help us bridge the gap for our son.”

“It’s basketball for a worthwhile cause,” said Colbert. “Everyone involved in the event is extremely happy to show their support for Jacob’s Bridge, and to see Jacob and how well he’s doing makes it even more special.”

“I am honored that my peers have chosen Jacob’s Bridge and the cause of autism awareness for our annual DIII event showcasing New Hampshire basketball,” said John Scheinman. “It’s always a special day for Susan and I, and we extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all the coaches and New Hampshire Tech for their efforts and generosity.”

The Owls have fared very well in the tournament, boasting a perfect 7-0 record. “I’d like to keep that a secret,” said Colbert with a smile. “We’ve been fortunate to bring some pretty talented teams over there. This year’s group in large part has never played in the tournament, so it will be a new challenge. With the Thanksgiving break over, I think the players are anxious to get back on the court and see where they stand at this stage of the season.”

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