BasketballLakenheath at SHAPE Friday and Saturday

Many interdivisional games can get ugly quickly in the favor of the larger school. This weekend’s clash the Division I Lancers and Division II Spartans might prove an exception to that rule.

While the Lakenheath boys enter the weekend hovering around .500, their schedule includes several games against non-DODDS opponents they won’t encounter in the postseason and a number of close losses that suggest a team just a few possessions away from putting it all together. And in fact, the Lancers did put it all together for a signature win on Dec. 14, beating Division I rival Ramstein 42-31 to split a Friday-Saturday doubleheader with the Royals.

The Lancer girls initially followed a similar path, including splitting two December games against Ramstein. But the team has righted itself after three straight losses to start the 2014 portion of its schedule and will bring a five-game winning streak into Belgium this weekend.

The SHAPE boys will bring a perfect 6-0 DODDS-Europe mark into the games, including an impressive 53-39 win over Brussels on Saturday. The Spartan girls are a more middling 3-3, but have won two of their last three games and nearly upended powerful Division III reigning champion Brussels in a 34-31 loss Saturday.

The Lancer-Spartan matchup also contains some compelling individual matchups in the backcourt.

For the boys, versatile Lakenheath point guard AJ Ransom will cross paths with SHAPE sharpshooter Conner Manning. In the girls games, Lancer star Kristen Reed and Spartan counterpart Gina Rhett will collide in an All-Europe duel at the point.

Vicenza at Aviano Friday and Saturday

The regular-season battle for Italy has been all but settled, with Vicenza running away from the boys pack and Naples doing the same among the girls. But this weekend represents one of the final chances for those left behind to do something about it.

The Vicenza boys bring an unblemished 8-0 DODDS-Europe record into their final games of the regular season. Those wins include conquests over all of the Cougars’ familiar opponents, including Division II rival Naples. All, that is, except Aviano.

The Saints have struggled at times over the course of a 7-3 season, but routed Naples 65-45 on Jan. 25 to even the season series with the Wildcats and start off an active three-game winning streak. Duplicating that feat against the cruising Cougars would attract even more attention to the upstart Division II hopeful.

While Aviano is chasing Vicenza up the boys standings, the two schools share a plight in the girls ranks.

The 3-3 Cougars and 6-2 Saints are both positioned squarely behind unbeaten Naples. Both have had their ill-fated shots at the frontrunning Wildcats, so they’ll have to take their frustrations out on each other this weekend.

Twitter: @broomestripes

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