WIESBADEN, Germany – Bamberg and Baumholder earned spots in the Division III boys’ championship match Saturday with two very different semifinal wins Friday afternoon at the Wiesbaden High School gymnasium.

Bamberg lit up the boards in a decisive 77-54 handling of Rota, beating the team that denied it the title in last year’s championship game.

Baumholder had a harder time with Brussels, pulling away only in the final minutes to escape with a 32-23 victory against a team it trounced by 19 points a week ago.

To have a chance against an athletic, talented Bamberg team on Saturday, “we’re going to have to play a whole lot better,” said Baumholder coach Chris Clark. But the Bucs are up to the challenge, he said. “We’re not scared and we’re going to show up.”

Bamberg’s eyes are on the prize, said coach Tim Smith. “Our goal is to win it all.”

Leading the Barons in scoring against Rota was 6-foot-5 senior forward Terry Williams with 20 points, and 6-2 sophomore guard Andrew Reed, who scored 18 and had seven rebounds and three assists.

Williams, who’s played for Bamberg for four years, was low-key about the Rota win. “It feels good, but I wish Tre’von Owens was still here,” he said. “The victory would have been more satisfying, but we still got the win.”

Owens was a star for Rota, helping the Admirals win three straight European crowns before graduating last year and going on to play Division I college ball at UC Riverside.

The pressure to keep that streak going wasn’t a factor for the Admirals, said Rota coach Ben Anderson. “We’re not what we were last year but we’re the best we could be this year,” he said.

Rota threw all it had at Bamberg, with three different players – sophomores Christian Ewing and Mason Crowell and senior Brooks Furleigh – combining for nine three-point field goals. But Bamberg’s starting five of two seniors and three sophomores were relentless at the net, putting up a steady barrage of points that kept Rota’s hot shooters from getting the Admirals back into the game.

“They didn’t give up,” Anderson said of his team. “They played extremely hard. We were just overmatched today.”

For Baumholder, the win over Brussels looked anything but easy. The Bucs jumped out to an early 8-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. While it never relinquished that lead, Brussels kept it close throughout, trailing by just three with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

But that’s when it fell apart for the Briggands. With about 3:30 left on the clock, senior Kristian Javier went 2-2 at the free throw line to make the score 26-23. But then Baumholder answered with two back-to-back layups, one on a Brussels turnover, extending its lead 30-23 with about 1:30 left.

Clark, Baumholder’s coach, said senior forward Ben McDaniels carried the team on his shoulders after freshman point guard and steady scorer Joseph Gouty got into early foul trouble.

McDaniels, who scored 20 points - nearly half of those in the fourth quarter - said he tried to slow down his team’s tempo on the court and keep his jittery teammates calm. “It’s been a while since Baumholder made it this far in the tournament,” he said. “Not a lot of us are used to this feeling.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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