WIESBADEN, Germany – Four DODDS-Europe Division II hoops contenders got a postseason head start Tuesday as the 2013 European Basketball Championships tipped off with a soft afternoon launch.
Favored boys teams Schweinfurt and Aviano and girls teams Naples and Hohenfels tasted victory as the five-day tournament opened with a light four-game set at Wiesbaden Fitness Center on Clay Kaserne.
The tournament begins in earnest Wednesday with 42 games across three Wiesbaden facilities. The event continues through Saturday, when DODDS-Europe will crown boys and girls champions in Divisions I, II and III.
Schweinfurt 38, Hohenfels 32: The fourth-seeded Razorbacks survived multiple Tiger rallies to earn a postseason-opening win.
Schweinfurt rode a series of steals and resulting breakaways to a 13-2 lead after one quarter. “We had a lot of energy to start with,” Schweinfurt head coach Jesse Woods said.
True to form, however, the pesky Tigers roared back, moving to within a single basket on Mark Carr’s three-pointer with under a minute to play before halftime.
The Razorbacks reconstructed their double-digit lead after halftime only to see it fall again, setting up a two-possession game down the stretch. But the young Tigers, cursed all season by an inability to close out close games, couldn’t find the necessary buckets.
After a strong 10-4 regular season, Schweinfurt considers itself a legitimate contender for Division II honors. Woods has outlined a simple strategy to get there.
“We need to execute,” Woods said. “Run our offense and play consistent on defense.”
Carr led all scorers with 16 points. Leon Roy led a balanced Razorbacks attack with 11, followed by Khayree Files with 8 and Lajuarren Burks with 7.
Aviano 41, Bahrain 29: The Saints had no trouble in an efficient wire-to-wire victory.
Aviano placed three players in double digits, led by Andrew Bert’s 11. Elijah Smith and Charles Cottingham added 10 apiece
The going gets tougher Wednesday as the Saints share a court with the Razorbacks. The teams occupy perhaps the most competitive of Division II’s four pools, with each of higher-seeded Naples, AFNORTH and Vicenza enjoying more manageable brackets.
Hohenfels 35, Marymount 16: The Tigers embarked on what they hope will be a long and productive postseason run with a romp over the winless Lions. Hohenfels built an 18-5 halftime lead and never looked back.
Shelby Atkinson led the Tigers with nine points. Lori Nsimpasi scored seven for Marymount.
With a steady trio of stars in Tashia Golson, Kiana Glenn and Shelby Atkinson and an 8-6 record earned through a brutal regular-season schedule, fifth-seeded Hohenfels has the tools to make a surprise bid for Division II gold. Tuesday’s rout offered the chance to ease into the five-day marathon.
“We got to work on some things we don’t normally do,” Tigers head coach Aaron Wells said. “It was a good game to start the tournament with, get the butterflies out.”
Naples 34, Bahrain 10: The fourth-seeded Wildcats cruised to victory over the overmatched No. 12 seed.
With Tuesday’s victory, Naples has now won eight of its last 10 games.
Shanice Alexander scored eight points to pace the Wildcats.
Things get tougher quickly for both of Tuesday’s winners. The Tigers and Wildcats face off Wednesday afternoon in one of the most evenly-matched games in Division II pool play.