Royals transition into overpowering foe during win over Raiders
Stars and Stripes February 1, 2024
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Ramstein boys basketball team entered the season in transition.
The Royals lost much of their 2022-2023 runner-up squad. Even mid-season, the Royals experienced change, as players transferred in and out.
With so much in flux, it seems appropriate that Ramstein excels in the transition game. That showed Wednesday evening at Kaiserslautern High School against its crosstown rival. The Royals forced 33 turnovers and turned them into 20 fast-break points on the other end, en route to a 64-32 victory.
“Transition is where we live,” said Ramstein coach Brendan Rouse, who admitted the Royals (7-2, 5-2) need work in half-court sets. “Defense is where we make most of our buckets. We’re really happy with the way things are going right now.”
Wednesday’s win stretched the Royals’ winning streak to five games, including three against Division I opponents. Ramstein also increased the margin of victory over the Raiders (2-9, 2-9) from their previous meeting, a 50-38 contest on Dec. 14.
Since that meeting, the team is understanding its roles better, such as on defense, Ramstein’s Tyrell Edwards said. The Royals amassed 28 steals, with Ky’ron Hall totaling nine — three of which he dished out as assists in the first half — and Michael Gonzales chipping in with six.
“We had a lot of new players come in,” said Edwards, who finished with a game-high 15 points. “But also had the JV guys come in strong, and that helped us get ready for the season.”
To go along with the defensive and transitional dominance, Ramstein showcased its balanced scoring efforts.
Nine of the 13 players who dressed got on the scoresheet, and only two players, Edwards and Dominic Brooks (13 points), reaching double digits. In the first quarter alone, all five starters — Christian Roy, Hall, Kelan Vaughn, Brooks and Edwards — and Gonzales recorded buckets for the squad’s 13 points.
This doesn’t shock the Royals coach.
“We never put it all on one individual,” Rouse said. “It’s what we talk about all the time. ‘It’s not your man; it’s all of our man. It’s not your job to score; it’s all of our jobs to score.’ We’re always going to be that way.”
The Raiders rued the turnovers and other mistakes. Coach Gabriell Horton said if his players want to play an up-tempo game, then they must show more composure in certain situations.
Still, Kaiserslautern had some moments when things were working. The Raiders finished the first half on a 5-0 run, sparked by an Uray Dukuly dunk after a Hall steal and layup made it 24-5 with 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the second quarter.
Dukuly finished with 10 points to pace the Raiders.
“I think we’re on the verge of being really, really good,” Horton said. “What we need to do is focus on the positives and not linger on the negatives. If we can focus on the things we’ve done well, we’ll be fine.”
As for the Royals, they have solidified their second-place spot in Division I behind Stuttgart with two weeks of the regular season remaining.
Rouse said the team has plenty of room for improvement, but Edwards wasn’t shy from saying Ramstein could make a run at the title, as long as the team continues to grow together.
“I think we can take home the championship, if we fix all the little mistakes,” Edwards said.