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Lisa McBride of Lakenheath dribbles past Barbara Burriss, left, and Karah Helm of Kaiserslautern during a battle of Division I foes on Jan. 29. Lakenheath’s victory in that game earned it the top seed in the Division I tournament, which begins Wednesday in Mannheim, Germany. Kaiserslautern is the No. 2 seed.

Lisa McBride of Lakenheath dribbles past Barbara Burriss, left, and Karah Helm of Kaiserslautern during a battle of Division I foes on Jan. 29. Lakenheath’s victory in that game earned it the top seed in the Division I tournament, which begins Wednesday in Mannheim, Germany. Kaiserslautern is the No. 2 seed. (Ben Bloker/S&S)

Lisa McBride of Lakenheath dribbles past Barbara Burriss, left, and Karah Helm of Kaiserslautern during a battle of Division I foes on Jan. 29. Lakenheath’s victory in that game earned it the top seed in the Division I tournament, which begins Wednesday in Mannheim, Germany. Kaiserslautern is the No. 2 seed.

Lisa McBride of Lakenheath dribbles past Barbara Burriss, left, and Karah Helm of Kaiserslautern during a battle of Division I foes on Jan. 29. Lakenheath’s victory in that game earned it the top seed in the Division I tournament, which begins Wednesday in Mannheim, Germany. Kaiserslautern is the No. 2 seed. (Ben Bloker/S&S)

Heidelberg’s JC Sharer, left, goes up for a shot over Wiesbaden’s Michael Phillips during a regular-season game at Heidelberg on Dec. 2. Heidelberg is seeded second behind Ramstein in Division I and Wiesbaden is the second seed behind Aviano in Division II, in the DODDS-Europe basketball championships.

Heidelberg’s JC Sharer, left, goes up for a shot over Wiesbaden’s Michael Phillips during a regular-season game at Heidelberg on Dec. 2. Heidelberg is seeded second behind Ramstein in Division I and Wiesbaden is the second seed behind Aviano in Division II, in the DODDS-Europe basketball championships. (Michael Abrams/S&S)

Europe-based basketball fans have no need to wait for March Madness. DODDS-Europe’s annual February Frenzy, with eight high school champions emerging from four days of wall-to-wall basketball, tips off Wednesday morning at four sites in Mannheim, Germany.

Four European championships for each sex are on the line, with the boys and girls of Divisions I and IV settling things on Friday. On Saturday, the Division II and III titles will be determined.

Even before the first of the scheduled 121 games tipped off, however, the seeding committee registered its regard for three schools. Aviano, Baumholder and Rota are top-seeded in both the boys and girls fields in Divisions II, III and IV, respectively.

In the girls events, fast-forward to Saturday, when Aviano and defending champion Baumholder will almost certainly claim their titles. Both are undefeated, both field talent (All-Europeans Elizabeth Styles and Veronne Clark for Baumholder and Alyssa Lane for Aviano) and height (Jasmine Thompson and Megan White for Baumholder and Jasmine Mailoto for Aviano).

Corey Sullivan, coach of defending D-I champion Kaiserslautern, summed it up over the phone on Monday: "Baumholder could probably beat any team in Europe. I haven’t seen Aviano, but everyone says they’re great. I hope I get to see that Lane girl play."

Rota combines much of its talent and height in one player, All-Europe senior Bethany Walcott. In her only foray into DODDS competition this season, last month at Alconbury, Walcott chalked up 104 points, 75 rebounds, 17 steals, seven assists and eight blocks as the Lady Admirals went 5-1 against three of the teams in the D-IV field.

According to Dexter Bohn, coach of the three-time defending champion Brussels Lady Brigands, the team that inflicted that lone loss on Rota, Walcott makes the Lady Admirals "odds-on favorites in Division IV."

The 5-foot-10 Walcott, he wrote Monday in an e-mail, "is an outstanding player who can play inside and outside on offense and is a savvy defensive player and excellent rebounder."

There are no sure predictions for the Division I girls title. Experienced Lakenheath, led by Tekeia Wallace and Erica Turner, is seeded No. 1 by virtue of a one-point victory at Kaiserslautern last month. That margin indicates how closely the D-I field is bunched, according to Kaiserslautern’s Sullivan.

"Any team can beat any other team," he said. "It wouldn’t surprise me if the No. 6 or even the No. 7 seed won."

Things are also uncertain in the boys competition, although Baumholder, averaging nearly 88 points during its last four games — including just under 36 points per game from Artrell Davis — look poised to overwhelm the seven-team field. Unknown teams are the kicker: The Bucs are pooled against Bahrain and the American Overseas School of Rome, both unfamiliar to Baumholder coach Spencer Bean.

"It always makes me a little nervous to play a team no one else has seen," he wrote in a Monday e-mail, "because you have no clue what’s coming."

Like the Saints girls, Aviano’s boys are 12-0 after running their American Schools in Italy League foes ragged during the regular season. If the speedy Saints have an Achilles’ heel, though, it’ll likely turn up against D-II teams with strong inside presence — Bitburg and 6-6 Deion Giddens or Ansbach and 6-10 Sam Freeman — or teams that can match their athleticism, such as Bamberg and Wiesbaden.

Rota, behind "pure-shooter" freshman Tre’von Owens, split with two of the teams the Admirals will face here and was taken to overtime by a third. And all four of them will be contending with the X-factor in unknowns Lajes, Ankara and Incirlik.

Like the D-I girls, the Division I boys figure to be a tight fit, although a title-game showdown between two-time defending champion Heidelberg and top-seeded Ramstein remains a solid possibility.

But Bean, fresh off a 101-95 loss and a 92-91 victory over Kaiserslautern, cautions against overlooking the Red Raiders, in spite of their 3-10 record.

"K-town will surprise a few teams," he predicted via E-mail. "They struggled most of the year, but I think Coach (Brant) Tryon … has them believing. They scored 192 points against us … and that’s not fast-break points. They are hitting their shots and playing well right now."

At tourney time, no coach could ask for more.

Boys tournamentsWhat: Divisions I, II, III and IV championships

Format: Pool play, top two in each pool advance to crossover semifinals

When: Wednesday-Friday for Divisions I and IV; Thursday-Saturday for Divisions II and III

Where: Five sites in Mannheim. All championship games at Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena.

Admission fee: None on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday and Saturday at the Sports Arena, admission is $5 per day for adults; $3 for students.

Tournament seedings(Regular-season records)

Division I (2008 champion: Heidelberg)—Pool A: 1, Ramstein (13-1); 4, Lakenheath (7-6); 5, Patch (11-3). Pool B: 2, Heidelberg (13-1); 3, International School of Brussels (8-0); 6, Kaiserslautern (3-10); 7, Vilseck (5-9).

Division II (2008 champion: SHAPE)— Pool A: 1, Aviano (12-0); 4, Bamberg (11-3); 6, Mannheim (4-10); 9, Black Forest Academy (0-14). Pool B: 2, Wiesbaden (10-4); 3, Bitburg (5-7); 5, Ansbach (5-9); 7, Naples (5-5); 8, SHAPE (6-7)

Division III (2008 champion: Bamberg)—Pool A: 1, Baumholder (8-5); 4, Bahrain (0-0); 5, American Overseas School of Rome (9-3). Pool B: 2, Hohenfels (2-11); 3, AFNORTH (5-8); 6, Vicenza (4-8); 7, Milan (1-9)

Division IV (2008 champion: Hanau)—Pool A: 1, Rota (4-2); 4, Sigonella (10-4); 5, Alconbury (3-13); 8, Ankara (0-4). Pool B: 2, Brussels (4-8); 3, Menwith Hill (7-6); 6, Incirlik (4-0); 7, Lajes (0-0)

Note: Records are for officially scheduled games only. During regular season, teams play area teams regardless of school size.

Girls tournamentsWhat: Divisions I, II, III and IV championships

Format: Pool play, top two in each pool advance to crossover semifinals

When: Wednesday-Friday for Divisions I and IV; Thursday-Saturday for Divisions II and III

Where: Five sites in Mannheim. All championship games at Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena.

Admission fee: None on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday and Saturday at the Sports Arena, admission is $5 per day for adults; $3 for students.

Tournament seedings(Regular-season records)

Division I (2008 champion: Kaiserslautern)—Pool A: 1, Lakenheath (10-3); 4, Ramstein (8-6); 5, Patch (12-2). Pool B: 2, Kaiserslautern (9-4); 3, International School of Brussels (4-4); 6, Heidelberg (11-3); 7, Vilseck (8-4).

Division II (2008 champion: Mannheim) —Pool A: 1, Aviano (12-0); 4, Mannheim (7-7); 6, SHAPE (8-6); 9, Bamberg (1-13). Pool B: 2, Wiesbaden (8-8); 3, Naples (8-2); 5, Bitburg (2-11); 7, Black Forest Academy (8-6); 8, Ansbach (6-8).

Division III (2008 champion: Baumholder)—Pool A: 1, Baumholder (13-0); 4, Milan (6-4); 5,Vicenza (4-8). Pool B: 2, AFNORTH (7-7); 3, Hohenfels (1-12); 6, American Overseas School of Rome (6-6).

Division IV (2008 champion: Brussels)—Pool A: 1, Rota (5-1); 4, Ankara (2-1); 5, Sigonella (0-13); 8, Alconbury (0-16). Pool B: 2, Brussels (4-9); 3, Menwith Hill (8-5); 6, Incirlik (1-2); 7, Lajes (0-0).

Note: Records are for officially scheduled games only. During regular season, teams play area teams regardless of school size.


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