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Stars and Stripes February 17, 2023
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The final four participants fighting for the boys and girls crowns in the Division I DODEA European Basketball Championships come as no surprise.
The two top seeds in each tournament – Stuttgart and Ramstein for the boys and Wiesbaden and Ramstein for the girls – navigated round-robin play that completed Friday at Ramstein High School with the top two records.
With the boys teams having seen each other four times and the girls three times already, all four coaches expect no shocks when they meet up again Saturday.
“Playing a team three times, I think we know who they are, and they know who we are,” Ramstein girls coach Andrew Short said. “What we need to do is play our game. Hopefully, it works, but we can’t be anybody else but ourselves.”
Wiesbaden’s girls completed a perfect round robin with wins over Vilseck (36-6) and Kaiserslautern (33-22). The last game came after the Warriors (22-1) already had clinched their spot, thanks to the Royals’ 34-28 win over Stuttgart earlier in the day, which also had punched Ramstein’s ticket.
The Warriors enter the final having bested Ramstein (19-3) three times already, including a 38-26 victory in each team’s first tournament game. Despite the success so far against its opponent, Wiesbaden understands the difficulty of facing such a familiar opponent.
“It’s really hard to beat a team four times,” Wiesbaden coach Kristin Kachmar said. “I think that we match up well with one another, and it’s going to be who can execute their offense and who plays the best defense will be the winner.”
On the boys side, Stuttgart (21-1) had gotten the better of Ramstein (19-3) three times during the regular season. Those victories were by 12 on Dec. 10 at Ramstein, eight on Jan. 13 and 14 on Jan. 14, the latter two at Stuttgart.
The Royals responded with a 58-49 victory on Wednesday in each team’s first round-robin matchup. Ramstein led by as many as 20 before the Panthers clawed back late.
“We know how they play; they know how we play,” Stuttgart coach Christopher Jackson said. “It’s simply about who plays their way the best.
“Whoever imposes their will and gets the other team to play the way want them to play is going to win the game.”
One advantage the Royals have comes in the form of experience.
Stuttgart hasn’t been to a final since 2013, when the team was known as the Patch Panthers.
Ramstein, meanwhile, is the defending Division I champion.
“We’ve been there before,” Ramstein coach Brendan Rouse said. “We’re used to it. We feel like our backs are against the walls a little bit since they did beat us three times this year. We’re just going to come out and just play ball as hard as we possibly can and let the chips fall where they may.”
Whatever may come on Saturday, all four coaches emphasized defense as a main factor in deciding which teams will go home with the trophy.
The Ramstein boys allowed 28 points per game in the round robin, including four games of 22 points and fewer. The Stuttgart boys, meanwhile, gave up 32.3 points per game, having the larger variation of 58 as a high and 10 as a low.
For the girls, Wiesbaden’s defense held opponents to 24.8 points per game in pool play, while Ramstein allowed 26.
“Offense wins games, but defense wins championships,” Kachmar said. “I think the team that plays the best defense is going to come out on top.”