RAMSTEIN AIR BASE – A revamped Ramstein basketball program debuted in promising fashion Friday with a boys and girls doubleheader sweep of visiting Vilseck.
Featuring rosters unrecognizable from the school’s twin DODDS-Europe Division I runner-up squads of 2011-12, the new cast of Royals satisfied a capacity crowd with consecutive wins, 56-26 for the girls and 76-56 for the boys.
In the opener, the Ramstein girls pried open a tight game with a dominant third quarter, outscoring visiting Vilseck 12-2 en route to an increasingly lopsided win.
The teams slogged through a sluggish 6-6 opening quarter and a frenzied but evenly-matched second quarter before the Royals began to assert themselves immediately after halftime.
Katherine Enyeart’s offensive rebound and putback placed Ramstein up by double digits with under two minutes to play in the third, and a twisting layup by guard Breanna Martinez grew the lead over 20 points midway through the final eight minutes.
Royals head coach Carter Hollenbeck, making his Division I coaching debut, encouraged his nervous young squad to “relax and have fun” after an anxious first half. His team, including five freshmen on an 11-player roster, took that message to heart.
“After the first half, I was able to slow down and control my feelings,” said freshman guard Martinez, who led the team with 12 points. “We needed to get it out of our systems, and we got it out of our systems.”
While the girls’ game escalated into a blowout, a solid Ramstein boys team constructed a comfortable early lead and settled in to protect it. Senior Christian Gunia’s pull-up jumper put the Royals up by 10 points two minutes into the second quarter, and Ramstein maintained at least a nine-point lead for the duration.
That was an encouraging sign for a team that includes nine new additions surrounding a core of returning seniors Gunia, Will Dorsey and Ryan McGuire.
“They were the ones talking a lot, getting people organized, telling them what to do and where to go and how to be,” said Ramstein head coach Len Tarnowski of his returning trio. “They were ready for the challenge.”
The visiting Falcons, meanwhile, believe they can build on the persistence shown Friday. Vilseck resisted rising Ramstein momentum to keep the game within a respectable margin and found sporadic success with a second-half full-court press.
“Now it’s just a matter of getting them to be able to execute in the game and understand game situations,” said second-year Vilseck head coach John Sabala, citing a series of productive preseason practices. “I’m pretty pleased with the first performance.”
Ramstein’s opening homestand proceeds against Patch on Saturday, while Vilseck continues its swing through southwest Germany with a Saturday visit to Kaiserslautern.