Army-Air Force Final Four Mannheim, Heidelberg win Final Four crowns
April 6, 2009
MANNHEIM, Germany — Mannheim managed one of two titles it was up for Sunday in Installation Management Command-Europe’s U.S. Army-Air Force Final Four Basketball Championships.
Mannheim’s men squad triumphed 68-64 over Kaiserslautern in a tight contest, but the Mannheim women were overwhelmed in the second half in falling 60-50 to Heidelberg.
Both of Mannheim’s teams won the Army championship last weekend on the same Mannheim Sports Arena court, beating the same opponents they faced on Sunday.
The men’s title game was close throughout. The game had five ties with several coming in the closing minutes. With Mannheim up 63-61 late in the second half, After Kaiserslautern missed on a few chances to tie, the Mustangs pulled ahead 67-61 with 45 seconds left. K-Town’s Johnny Allen hit a three-pointer seconds later, but that’s as close as the Panthers could get.
Mannheim’s Reginald Hawkins, the men’s tournament MVP, led all scorers with 21 points.
In the women’s game, it was a tale of two halves as Heidelberg shook off a poor first half to take the title from Mannheim. Heidelberg scored 43 points in the second half and was led by tournament MVP Takisha Watkins, who scored 14 of her 21 points in the second half.
"It’s all about defense," said Watkins, an Army specialist. "We played a sluggish first half. I guess it was nerves. In the second half, we played our game – defense."
Heidelberg jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but Mannheim went on a tear, scoring 15 unanswered points. Heidelberg did not score a field goal for a roughly10-minute stretch in the first half with eight of the Lady General’s 17 first-half points coming on free throws. Heidelberg came out on fire in the second half, going on a 10-0 run to take the lead. In the first seven minutes of the second half, the Lady Generals scored 18 points, surpassing the number of points they scored in the entire first half. Mannheim only scored six points in the first 10 minutes of the second half and never recaptured the lead.
Mannheim closed within 46-40 with three minutes left to play, but that’s as close as the Lady Mustangs could get.
In both the men’s and women’s semifinals games Saturday, Army teams topped Air Force teams to reach the championship games. Kaiserslautern men’s Larry Bailey made a 28-footer with 3.9 seconds left in its semifinal game Saturday to beat Mildenhall 46-45 and advance to Sunday’s championship game.
This edition of the Final Four will be the last for the foreseeable future. Instead, the Army and Air Force will sponsor an all-comers, season-ending tournament, with the winners emerging as U.S. Forces Europe champions. No individual Army and Air Force championships will take place in 2010, officials said.