Baumholder looking forward to rigorous large-school hoops stretch
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 15, 2019
The records of the Baumholder Bucs boys and girls basketball teams are likely to take a hit over the next two weeks as they embark on arguably the most difficult January schedule of any DODEA-Europe basketball program. But the way the Bucs see it, they have nothing to lose.
Baumholder, a tiny southwestern German school, visits comparably huge neighbors Ramstein and Kaiserslautern this weekend. A week later, they’ll head to England for Friday and Saturday games against another Division I school, Lakenheath.
A look at each school’s enrollment illustrates the magnitude of the Bucs’ looming challenge. Baumholder has just 97 students in grades nine through 12 as of DODEA’s Jan. 14 report, ranking it among the smallest in DODEA-Europe. Ramstein is at the opposite extreme with 938 students, while Kaiserslautern has 659. Even Lakenheath, with a more comparable 370 students, has a freshman class bigger than Baumholder’s entire high-school enrollment.
DODEA-Europe athletic director Kathlene Clemmons said her preference is to avoid such mathematical mismatches, allowing teams to face the same opponents in the regular season that they’ll encounter in the postseason.
“As much as possible, we would like schools to play in their division,” Clemmons said.
But Baumholder's geographic proximity to several Division I schools increases its likelihood of drawing those schools as opponents. And there’s not much downside for Baumholder, aside from some potential bruised feelings if a game devolves into a blowout. Any losses the Bucs absorb will inflict negligible damage, as every DODEA-Europe team is invited to its respective division’s European tournament in February regardless of regular-season record.
Baumholder girls coach Phillip Loyd called the games “risk-free” and “high-reward,” explaining that the imposing opponents might draw the best out of his team.
“Coaches are constantly working to get the team to perform at as high a level as possible,” Loyd said.
Loyd further pointed out that while nearly every willing participant makes the varsity squad at DODEA-Europe’s smallest schools, the competition for varsity roster spots at big Division I schools can be fierce.
“My players will see players in their respective positions that have earned their position, which many times translates to a player that is a step quicker and hungrier,” Loyd said.
Baumholder boys coach Dewayne Pigge said he’s ready for a “test of measurement” as to where his Bucs, the defending Division III champions, stand with just over a month remaining before the start of their title defense. Back-to-back games against reigning Division I dynasty Ramstein and 2018 runner-up Kaiserslautern should certainly provide that.
“Our kids understand the task at hand and are always up for the challenge,” Pigge said. “We would love a victory, but we preach improvement each time we play.
“We are teaching our kids to be go-getters.”