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Ansbach’s Lady Cougars, the defending European Division III basketball champions, opened their 2004-2005 season by downing Division II power Mannheim 53-43 Friday night on the Lady Bison’s home floor.

Paced by the same three players — Brittney Britton, KeKe Johnson and Alison Hazen — who led Ansbach to the European D-III volleyball title in October, the Lady Cougars opened a 27-17 lead at halftime and maintained it the rest of the way.

Britton and Johnson, both All-Europe second-team choices last season, scored 25 and 22 points, respectively, while Hazen grabbed 14 rebounds.

Next up for Ansbach is a home date against D-1 Heidelberg on Friday.

Mannheim, behind 16 points from Nyesha Green and 13 from Amanda Knox, rebounded to down Heidelberg of Division I, 55-41, on Saturday.

Mannheim will play its D-2 opener Saturday at Patch.

In other opening-weekend games:

K-town nips Hanau

At Hanau, Division I Kaiserslautern held off a late rally by the European D-II runners-up, 41-40, thanks in part to 19 points, eight rebounds, four steals and four assists from sophomore Anisha Ingram.

Hanau got 16 points from junior all-conference point guard Kyri Bye-Nagel and 12 from returning All-Europe first-teamer Katisha Fauntleroy. The Panthers led 18-17 at halftime but fell behind in the third quarter. Hanau is at Black Forest Academy for a D-2 match-up on Friday and Saturday.

K-town, which defeated D-II Patch 47-16 on Friday night, hosts D-III Giessen this Friday in its last pre-holiday game.

Ramstein takes early D-1 lead

At Würzburg, Ramstein’s Lady Royals opened their season with a 51-20 Division I victory.

Senior guard Krissy Grosselin, a three-time All-Europe selection, led Ramstein with 17 points, six assists and five steals. Teammate Heather Steele led all rebounders with 10.

Ramstein will play Saturday at home against Heidelberg, which fell 42-23 to Frankfurt International School on Friday, and at Mannheim on Saturday. Würzburg hosts Hohenfels on Friday.

Aviano rolls

At Aviano, the Lady Saints opened their season with a sweep of visiting American Overseas School of Rome, 51-21 on Friday and 44-4 in Saturday’s conference game.

Mavis Sanders and Kassie Mangosing led the scoring in both games. Mangosing scored 12 points on Friday and nine on Saturday; Sanders had 12 on Friday and 14 in Saturday’s 40-point courtesy-rule victory which ended with 7:14 to play in the game.

Vilseck toes the line

At Vilseck, the Falcons of D-II courtesy-ruled their D-III guests from Hohenfels 48-8 with 3:36 to play in the third quarter Friday night, thanks to efficient foul shooting.

Clarissa Harvey and LaPorschia Sanders each scored 14 points for the Falcons, who shot 16-for-25 from the free-throw line.

Alconbury nabs road sweep

At Baumholder, the Alconbury Dragons rode the scoring and rebounding of Keisha Hunt to 41-24 and 32-22 victories over the Baumholder Lady Bucs.

On Friday, Hunt led all scorers with 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to overcome an 18-rebound effort by Baumholder’s Ashley Karayannis. Carly Bascom added 11 points for Alconbury.

Saturday, Hunt claimed 13 rebounds and Ounie Pegues 10 to back Bascom’s 11-point effort.

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