D-III boys final
Baumholder refuses to fold and rallies past Ansbach
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 23, 2019
WIESBADEN, Germany -- The Baumholder Bucs lost to Ansbach by double digits in the regular season. They trailed by double digits before they even scored in the 2018-19 DODEA-Europe Division III boys basketball championship game.
Somehow, none of that seemed to deter them.
The second-seeded Bucs defiantly defended their European title turf against a exceedingly capable challenger Saturday at Clay Kaserne Fitness Center, outlasting the top-seeded Cougars 70-65 in a thrilling small-school championship game.
“It’s the confidence that we have within ourselves,” Baumholder coach Dewayne Pigge said. “We don’t give up. We keep fighting. We’ll never give up.”
Bucs sophomore Chandler Pigge turned in one of the most impressive individual performances in recent DODEA-Europe tournament memory, a thrilling 32-point masterpiece that included 22 points in the second half and 13 in the fourth quarter.
Pigge, an easy selection for the tournament’s most outstanding player award, contributed in every possible way on the court; he threw precision passes, hammered the glass on both ends, harassed Ansbach ballhandlers into turnovers and flung himself to the hardwood for loose balls, winning raves from both head coaches in the process. Ansbach coach Shannon Daniels called Pigge an “amazing” player, while Dewayne Pigge, Chandler’s father, said his son’s “basketball IQ is phenomenal.”
To that end, Pigge knew a transcendent performance would be required to knock off the Cougars, a talented and athletic senior-drive squad driven by years of postseason frustrations. After being slowed by foul trouble in last year’s final and held to a single basket in the first quarter Saturday, Pigge kicked his game into another gear, earning vindication for his team along with its second straight European title.
“We were the underdog ever since the beginning. We were the team nobody thought was going to win,” Chandler Pigge said. “We had to come out and show that we were a team that can win. We can win championships multiple times.”
While Pigge was the unequivocal star of the game, he had plenty of capable help from his Bucs teammates. Laurence Huxtable scored 17 points, Stephen Christmas scored eight of his 13 points after halftime and the Bucs defense recovered from its disastrous start to hold Ansbach to just nine second-quarter points, tying the game at halftime and providing a fresh start for the champs’ second-half surge.
“The team came together and they made it happen, and Chandler fed off of that,” Dewayne Pigge said.
Ansbach, undefeated in regular-season divisional play and untouchable throughout the tournament, scored the game’s first 12 points as physical seniors Ogden Andrew and Kevin Kamara manhandled the slow-starting Bucs. But the Cougars staggered when Baumholder began to punch back, rendering Ansbach’s 60-42 win in December a distant and irrelevant memory.
“We’ve gotten a little better. They’ve gotten a lot better,” Daniels said. “They outplayed us today.”
While Baumholder is in the nascent stages of a small-school dynasty, the loss continues a string of postseason disappointments for Ansbach, which also lost in the 2016 and 2017 European title games and 2018 semifinal round, and will face a rebuilding project next season as Andrew, Kamara and other key seniors move on. Daniels, too, said he plans to retire.
“I couldn’t have finished it with a better group of guys,” Daniels said.
Andrew, the longtime Cougar who led the school’s relaunched football program back to championship glory in the fall, scored 30 points in a stellar performance of his own. Kamara added 20 points in support.
Both teams navigated their respective pools without a loss and crushed their semifinal opponents to arrange the expected Bucs-Cougars final. Baumholder routed Brussels 80-46 in a lopsided rematch of its 35-28 overtime win in last year’s title game, while Ansbach crushed Spangdahlem 66-26.