Sports: Mildenhall Marauders seize basketball tournament title
January 2, 2008
RAF LAKENHEATH — The Mildenhall Marauders held off a flurry of three-pointers from a surging Lakenheath squad in the final minutes of their championship matchup to capture the title in the annual Dave Allen Classic basketball tournament.
Mildenhall built a 12-point lead in the second half of the championship game Sunday before the Eagles tightened up their defense and hit a series of key shots to bring the game within a point in the final minute.
But Mildenhall hit its clutch free throws while Lakenheath missed theirs and the Marauders escaped with a 75-71 win.
The Dave Allen Classic is held in honor of a former RAF Lakenheath master sergeant who was also a longtime sports official in England. Cancer claimed his life in 2006.
Mildenhall and Lakenheath were joined in the tourney by the Menwith Hill base team as well as MacPro, a London-based semi-pro team. Mildenhall, Lakenheath and MacPro each dropped a game in the tournament, but MacPro was edged out of the title game on points.
This year’s tourney was marked by close games. Mildenhall beat MacPro by one point to open the tournament but dropped a tilt to Lakenheath by one.
Last year, Mildenhall dropped the title game to the Kings Lynn Fury behind a 60-point effort by former American collegiate standout Lawrence Summers. This year, Mildenhall withstood a 25-point effort from Lakenheath’s Gary Gaines en route to hoisting the title.
Gaines led all scorers, hitting four three-pointers in the first half and five in the game. The slight shooting guard kept the Marauders off balance throughout the game with a mix of deft long-range shooting and aggressive drives into the lane.
But Mildenhall overcame Gaines’ shifty superlatives with a balanced scoring attack that focused on moving the ball in the half court and creating scoring options for a host of players. Five players scored in double digits, but none had more than 20 points.
Glen Thomas led Mildenhall with 13 points, including three three-pointers. Chris Washington, Corey Fletcher and Horace Johnson added 11 points each while Ignatius Moodey dropped in 10 points.
“We’ve got a team full of guys who can put the ball in the bucket, and that’s our strategy. All of our starters get out and score, and it makes the defense play us honest,” Mildenhall coach Keith McCauley said.
Cutting down on unforced turnovers and playing a sharper zone defense also helped Mildenhall edge the Eagles, McCauley said.
Winners and losers aside, the tourney provided scores of fans a chance to beat the holiday season doldrums and paid tribute to a man who devoted much of his life to athletics in the U.K.’s military community.
“That’s what he would like to do: have a lot of fun on the court,” said official Terry Reaves, an RAF Mildenhall noncommissioned officer who helped organize the tournament. “He would want to see some good ball and see everyone having fun.”