Division II roundup
AFNORTH survives scares, SHAPE not as lucky
Ansbach's Jamie Buchanan looks to pass against Isaiah Wesby of Naples in a Division II game at the DODDS-Europe Basketball Championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Wednesday. Naples won 67-36.
Stars and Stripes
WIESBADEN, Germany – A handful of upsets dotted a Division II European basketball tournament Wednesday that mostly followed the script set by its seedings.
Wednesday’s Division II preliminary action featured 22 games split between Wiesbaden High School, the fitness center on Clay Kaserne and nearby McCully Barracks. Pool play continues Thursday; advancing teams will play quarterfinal games early Friday leading into the afternoon’s semifinal round.
Boys and girls champions in all three divisions will be crowned Saturday.
AFNORTH 32, Black Forest Academy 28: The second-seeded Lions shuffled to the finish line against the upset-minded Falcons.
The teams traded sporadic baskets in a remarkably low-scoring first half. Senior guard Joseph Leavitt hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give BFA an 11-10 advantage at the break.
The action warmed up after halftime as the favored Lions found something approaching a rhythm. AFNORTH snuck ahead for a 26-22 lead through three quarters, and a nifty baseline drive by Densier Carnes put the Lions up 29-24 with under six minutes to play.
The Falcons still weren’t done, however, and scraped back to take possession with 20 seconds to play and a two-point deficit. An ill-timed backcourt violation denied BFA a look at a tying or go-ahead basket. Nuri Karaca hit a pair of free throws to settle the matter.
The game was an arduous but necessary first step for a talented but unproven contender.
“I think we were just a little bit sluggish. A lot of kids haven’t been in his kind of environment,” Rawn Jones said. “Hopefully this game will wake us up and we’ll be ready for the next one.”
AFNORTH 37, AOSR 36: Another slow start again threatened the Lions. Again, they barely survived.
A 19-0 third quarter rally rescued AFNORTH from an eight-point halftime deficit. The Lions pulled ahead by nine, but allowed the Falcons to creep within three in the final seconds. A late jump ball went AOSR’s way in the waning seconds, but the Falcons couldn’t get a clear look at a tying long ball and settled for an insufficient two-point hoop to close the game.
Aviano 45, Schweinfurt 42: The Saints took third place in a three-way Region IV regular-season race, but they don’t intend to be overlooked in the postseason.
No. 5 seed Aviano issued a convincing statement to its Division II rivals with a hard-earned win over the fourth-seeded Razorbacks, a team with its own championship aspirations.
Andrew Bert scored 18 and Elijah Smith 16 for the Saints.
The two teams each recorded wins in Tuesday’s light opening-day schedule, leaving them with a single game to play Wednesday.
Naples 67, Ansbach 36: The top-seeded defending champions burst into the postseason with a drubbing of the eighth-seeded Cougars.
The Wildcats unleashed a multi-pronged offense that should serve the team well as the competition gets stronger. Aaron Smith and Howard Pulley led the way with 14 points apiece, DJ Stockman added 13 and Isaiah Wesby chipped in 11.
Naples 72, Bitburg 39: The Wildcats completed their flawless first day with a second blowout win.
Ansbach 38, Bitburg 36: An evenly-matched battle saw the eighth-seeded Cougars edge the ninth-seeded Barons.
Vicenza 52, SHAPE 49: The third-seeded Cougars spent the regular season jostling with Naples and other Region IV rivals. They found competition nearly as stiff in Wiesbaden, barely surviving an upset bid from the No. 6 seed.
Marymount 39, SHAPE 37: The unheralded 11th seed scored Wednesday’s biggest upset with a narrow defeat of the sixth-seeded Spartans.
The loss was the second of the day for star-crossed SHAPE, which fell twice by a combined five points after throwing a scare into No. 3 Vicenza earlier in the day.
Vicenza 56, Marymount 38: The Cougars cruised in their second tip of the day, while a second upset bid failed to launch for the 11th-seeded upstarts.
AOSR 41, Black Forest Academy 26: The 10th-seeded Falcons earned an impressive win over the tough No. 7 seed.
Bahrain 45, Hohenfels 34: The No. 13 seed took the victory in a battle of the field’s lowest-seeded entries.
Schweinfurt 41, SHAPE 31: The upset of the day arrived long after most fans had cleared out of Wiesbaden High School gymnasium.
The 10th-seeded Razorbacks stunned the defending Division II champions behind a smothering defense and an impressive display of shot-making.
Schweinfurt roared past the shocked Spartans for a 12-5 lead through one quarter. Morgan Shreve hit a three-pointer seconds before halftime to put the Razorbacks up by 10 at the break.
The Razorbacks quelled any potential second-half SHAPE rally with an uncanny ability to find needed baskets. The Spartans, meanwhile, missed every shot at a momentum swing.
Schweinfurt came in focused on having fun and forgetting the challenges of its trying 3-11 regular season.
“Do what we know, and in the end have fun doing it,” Schweinfurt head coach Carla Nau-Redman said of her team’s approach. “I think that made a world of difference.”
Maria Maika scored 19 points to lead the Razorbacks.
Schweinfurt 38, Aviano 32. Hours before taking SHAPE, the Razorbacks cut the ribbon on their postseason coming-out party with a win over the seventh-seeded Saints.
The outcome reversed regular-season trends for both squads. Schweinfurt managed just three wins over the course of the regular season and entered the postseason on a four-game losing streak. Aviano, meanwhile, won five of its last six regular-season games to close a 6-4 campaign.
SHAPE 50, Aviano 45: The defending Division II champions barely survived a test from a plucky seventh seed, flashing vulnerability that would doom them to the later upset to Schweinfurt.
The Spartans, down four seniors from last year’s championship squad, got standout efforts from their esteemed inside-outside combination. Deja Chappell piled up 19 points and 16 rebounds, while guard Gina Rhett compiled 16 points, six steals and four assists.
Bitburg 41, AOSR 31: The Barons used a 14-4 third-quarter run to score the mild morning upset.
At 6-7 entering the postseason, Bitburg owes its No. 6 seed to a handful of regular-season losses to Division I teams, games that served to harden the team for the rigors of the tournament while costing it an attractive regular-season record. The Barons enacted some of the season’s lessons in a solid win over the tournament No. 3 seed.
Atyia Brigman scored 16 points and Brianna Lackey added nine points and a game-high 15 rebounds to pace Bitburg. AOSR’s Ceara Lafferty led all scorers with 19 points and added seven rebounds.
Bitburg 41, AFNORTH 20: The Barons recorded their second double-digit win of the day with a rout of the 11th-seeded Lions.
Hohenfels 31, Naples 22: Things were proceeding as planned for the fourth-seeded Wildcats. Then they simply stopped scoring.
The teams, jittery despite opening their postseason a day ahead of most of their peers, exchanged turnovers to start the game. Then guard Laneisha Jeans dropped in a silky jumper to open the scoring in Naples’ favor. The Wildcats piled on 10 more points in a 12-2 first-quarter statement.
The fifth-seeded Tigers absorbed the blow and started punching back, with most of the blows landing from their defensive end. The scrappy team pestered Naples into turnovers, wobbly shots and botched possessions, holding the Wildcats scoreless in the second quarter and pulling within a point at the half.
Hohenfels captured the lead just after halftime, pushed it to six after three quarters and were never threatened again.
Ansbach 55, Vicenza 44: Division II’s No. 1 overall seed showed why it’s the team to beat Thursday with a thorough wire-to-wire victory.
Ansbach scored the game’s first 11 points and built a 17-point halftime lead as the overwhelmed eighth seed struggled in vain to keep up.
Jahkya Smith scored 15 points to pace the victory.
Black Forest Academy 26, Vicenza 18: Abby Eucker scored 9 points and Michaella Fortune 7 as the ninth-seeded Falcons edged the eighth-seeded Cougars.
Tatiana Miranda scored a game-high 11 in defeat.
Bahrain 18, Marymount 14: Division II’s lowest-seeded teams delivered a spirited and evenly-matched four quarters.