Camp Humphreys teams reach Holiday Classic finals
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Laurie Aaron hit the huge shot with everything on the line on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Terrence Clark handled the little shots when it mattered most.
Together, they propelled the Camp Humphreys men’s and women’s teams into their respective championship games in the 2005 Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball Tournament — the first time Camp Humphreys’ two teams have reached the finals of the same Far East interservice open tournament.
Aaron’s buzzer-beater lifted Humphreys over the Osan Air Base Defenders 67-66. Osan won twice in the loser’s bracket to earn a rematch for the championship.
The Bulldogs men held off a second-half rally by the Kunsan Air Base Wolf Pack 79-71, as Clark went 7-for-10 from the foul line in the closing minutes, and scored 29 points.
“It feels great,” said men’s center Brett Thomas. “This is big. We have all the right pieces of the puzzle this year. It’s big for Camp Humphreys period.”
The Bulldogs’ men were to face either Yongsan Garrison’s Runnin’ Rebels or Kunsan in Wednesday’s final.
Humphreys’ Nyesha Wingster said she was confident as soon as Aaron took the inbounds pass with 6 seconds left. The final play is the type she and her teamates have come to expect of the All-Army guard, who played college ball at Iowa.
“I knew it was going to go in,” Wingster said of the game-winning shot, which came from just to the left of the foul circle. “She has such a good shot. Once she got the ball and the shot went into the air, I knew it was good.”
“She’s a great leader on the court. She shows us what we can do,” Wingster said. “That she’s played college ball and All-Army ball, you can tell players with that experience. You can tell she’s one of them by the type of leader she is on the court.”
Clark hasn’t yet reached the All-Army level but his contributions against Kunsan were no less important, Thomas said.
Foul shots “can be crucial,” Thomas said; Humphreys hit 23 of 38 as a team, compared to 14-for-26 by the Wolf Pack, in a foul-filled contest.
Clark “stepped up big. He’s a good player. He helped our composure and played all the way through to the end,” said Thomas, who chipped in with 19 points.
Thomas was speaking on what may have been his last day with the Bulldogs. On Wednesday — one day short of the championship game — he was to transfer from Korea to a new assignment at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. On Tuesday night, he was contemplating requesting in-country leave and pushing his departure back so he could play in the final.
“I hope it works out,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this.”
2005 Pacificwide Holiday Basketball Tournament
At Collier Field House and Seoul American High School Falcon Gym, South Post, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea
Men’s double-elimination playoffs
Yongsan Garrison 87, Camp Casey 72; Camp Casey eliminated
Osan Air Base 95, Camp Hovey 92; Camp Hovey eliminated
Camp Humphreys 79, Kunsan Air Base 71
Yongsan Garrison 91, Osan Air Base 90; Osan Air Base eliminated
Kunsan Air Base vs. Yongsan Garrison
Camp Humphreys vs. Kunsan Air Base or Yongsan Garrison
Camp Humphreys vs. Kunsan Air Base or Yongsan Garrison, if necessary
Women’s double-elimination playoffs
Camp Humphreys 67, Osan Air Base 66
Yongsan Garrison 80, Kunsan Air Base 67; Kunsan Air Base eliminated
Osan Air Base 65, Yongsan Garrison 63, OT; Yongsan Garrison eliminated
Camp Humphreys vs. Osan Air Base
Camp Humphreys vs. Osan Air Base, if necessary