big-mason-dixon-boys-basketball-upset

One of the most unforgettable basketball
tournaments was the 1967 Mason-Dixon
Boys’ tournament hosted by Virginia
School for the Deaf and Blind. At that
time seven schools (not 11 schools)
played in that tournament.

The heavy favorites was Florida School for
the Deaf and Blind, suddenly a very strong
team because of the merger of two schools
that shared the same campus (the white-only
and the black-only schools). This team
also was the choice of the fans.

Facing the Florida team in the championship
finals was Tennessee School for the Deaf,
which won three of the five previous
tournaments. In the meantime the Florida
team was on a 13-game winning streak.

The game was tense and hard fought; only a
few points separated both teams. Tennessee
struggled against Florida’s tight man to
man defense.

The Florida coach made a bad coaching
decision – ordering his team to switch
to full court press in the middle
of the fourth quarter. The coach
apparently did not realize that the
basketball as played in the Knoxville
area was full court press. All high
school teams were used to it and knew
how to overcome it.

The Tennessee team couldn’t believe
their eyes at the full court press.
They zoomed ahead with five or six
easy, uncontested scores. Their
point guard, controlling the ball
simply passed the ball to the open
man each time.

The Florida team did not take the
defeat too well in the dressing
room as tempers were short.

While Tennessee had a winning season,
Florida had a 21-3 record which included
a conference championship and a Class
C district championship and a berth
in the regional finals.

Despite not winning the 1967 Mason-Dixon
tournament, Florida was the choice as Deaf
Schools Team of the Year. Two of its players
eventually played basketball at Gallaudet.