Baumholder has been a handful during title streak
Stars and Stripes February 19, 2023
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Baumholder boys basketball team had plenty of reasons to be emotional following its 40-27 victory of Spangdahlem on Saturday.
The win at Ramstein High School clinched the Buccaneers’ fifth straight Division III DODEA European Championship in what was supposed to be a partially rebuilding year. Baumholder (16-4) came into the season with only two seniors — Jesayah Bogan and Johnathan Kimuli — and eight underclassmen, including five freshmen, on the roster.
The Buccaneers controlled the tempo of the game, holding onto the ball for long possessions, even when Spangdahlem came out of its defensive shell in the third to go man-to-man in the halfcourt.
In fact, Baumholder committed fewer turnovers in the second half with the Sentinels pressing than in the first half (six in the second half to eight in the first, respectively).
“We told ourselves we were going to come in with discipline and execute a plan, and we did,” Baumholder junior Caleb Piggé said. “That’s just a testament to my father (head coach Dwayne Piggé) and our assistant coach (Julius Cobb).”
Piggé paced the Buccaneers with a game-high 16 points. He scored nearly half of them (seven) in the fourth quarter, icing the game from the free-throw line by going 5-of-6.
Although Baumholder pulled away in the end, Spangdahlem made a comeback in the fourth quarter.
Held scoreless in the third quarter where each team had just eight possessions, the Sentinels trailed by as many as nine early in the fourth and by eight with 2:51 remaining in the game after Baumholder’s Leo Kirkland (nine points) split a pair at the charity stripe.
That’s when the Sentinels made things interesting. Junior forward Robert Leggett drained a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game 30-25 with 2:09 left.
In the period, Spangdahlem scored 15 points, with freshman guard Cameron Lewis dropping seven of his team-high 11.
“The thought of earning those offensive possessions led to players who were a little more conscious of the effect of their shots — they knew how hard we’d have to work to get the ball back,” Spangdahlem coach Matthew Cirillo said. “I think that really concentrated focus and led to some really nice results, and we worked really hard to get back in that game.”
In the end, though, the Sentinels didn’t get closer. Their coach credited his players for keeping it tight against the Division III powerhouse, but Baumholder is a dynasty for a reason.
“There’s definitely this perception of Baumholder and the mystique of Baumholder and what they’ve been able to accomplish,” Cirillo said. “They are a really excellent basketball team, and they continue to be a very excellent basketball team.”
And it doesn’t look as though Baumholder will dip anytime soon. The Buccaneers started two freshmen in point guard Greg Makubaya and 6-7 center Damian Jung and will be losing just one starter — Kimuli.
The team and cheerleaders made sure to mob the 5-8 shooting guard after the final whistle.
“I’m glad to play with all of them,” Kimuli said. “I love all my teammates. I wish I could stay here, but I have better things to do.”