Warriors leave no doubt who’s best in Europe
Stars and Stripes February 19, 2023
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The fourth matchup of the year between Division I powerhouses Wiesbaden and Ramstein was about as intense and physical as it could get.
In the end, though — like they have all year against the Royals — the Warriors came out on top Saturday, 43-34, to clinch their first DODEA-Europe basketball title since 2015.
“I told my girls defense …,” Wiesbaden first-year coach Kristin Kachmar said. “The team that played the best defense was going to win. We played defense tonight.”
The Royals, with their only losses on the season coming against Wiesbaden, came out swinging. Three different Ramstein players sunk three-pointers in the first quarter, energizing the crowd in the Ramstein High School gym.
Junior guard Jasmine Jones put Ramstein on the board first. Senior guard Aliya Jones followed up with another long-range shot and junior guard Katya von Eicken added another three points for the Royals.
But like they did throughout the game, the Warriors had an answer. Senior McKinley Viers sunk a three-pointer of her own to tie the score up at 11. A layup by freshman sensation Brandi Stanford put the Warriors up 13-11 after the first frame.
Another Aliya Jones basket to open the second quarter tied the score at 13. But Stanford answered with another layup to give Wiesbaden the lead, one the Warriors would not relinquish. Wiesbaden outscored the Royals 10-4 in the quarter and then held off a series of Ramstein comeback attempts.
“Every time we’d make a run, they answered immediately, where it took us — especially in that second quarter — a little bit to answer,” Ramstein coach Andrew Short aid.
Kachmar said the Warriors made some adjustments at halftime to try and take away the Royals high-post attack. “That shifted their offense into something new,” she said.
The Royals also adjusted and in the fourth quarter looked poised to get back in the game, when they cut the Warriors’ lead to 34-26 after trailing by as many as 15 points. But Stanford scored two consecutive layups, dodging through Ramstein defenders on the way and pushing the Warriors’ lead to double digits again.
“We had to come back stronger in the fourth to finish it off,” Stanford said. “We were slacking off a little bit. The energy needed to get up higher.
“It’s always intense with Ramstein,” she said.
Kachmar said Stanford, who scored a game-high 22 points, stepped up and delivered when her team needed her most.
“For a freshman to be able to handle that pressure with all of these seasoned players just shows how special she is,” the coach said. “She is a special player that doesn’t come through DODEA very often.”
Wiesbaden senior Lyndsay Urick, a 6-foot-5 center, chipped in eight points, a contribution that felt especially sweet after sitting out last year’s championship loss to Stuttgart due to an injured foot.
“It feels amazing because last year, I didn’t get to play. This year I got to prove myself and show my skills,” she said.
Other scorers for Wiesbaden included Viers and junior guard Gwen Icanberry, with five points each.
Junior guard Katya von Eicken led all Ramstein scorers with 14 points, accounting for all of Ramstein’s seven points in the third quarter. Other scorers for the Royals included Aliya Jones with nine points, Bralyn Jones with six, and Jasmine Jones with five.
Aliya Jones said the Royals gave it all they had “but it wasn’t enough.
“I think we definitely played one of our better defensive games,” she said. “We’re not happy with the outcome but we can’t be anything but proud of ourselves.”
The difference in the game was “we weren’t able to sink shots tonight,” Short said. “I thought we had pretty decent looks. We created a lot of turnovers. In the end, the shots didn’t go our way.”
Urick said the key to the Warrior’s success this year was “having fun and working together.”
The team also had some encouragement and motivation from the 2015 championship squad.
“The players were texting us and telling us good job and giving us tips,” Urick said. “I love this team. I’m glad we have another championship banner after all these years.”