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Menwith Hill's Shaun Brooks tries to defend against Sigonella's Jon Gasporra. Gasporra drew the foul in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Sigonella won 38-19.

Menwith Hill's Shaun Brooks tries to defend against Sigonella's Jon Gasporra. Gasporra drew the foul in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Sigonella won 38-19. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Menwith Hill's Shaun Brooks tries to defend against Sigonella's Jon Gasporra. Gasporra drew the foul in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Sigonella won 38-19.

Menwith Hill's Shaun Brooks tries to defend against Sigonella's Jon Gasporra. Gasporra drew the foul in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Sigonella won 38-19. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Sigonella's Chris Moore gets off a no-look pass to teammate Jason Berlin, not pictured, as Menwith Hill's Shaun Brooks defends. Sigonella beat the Mustangs 38-19 in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014.

Sigonella's Chris Moore gets off a no-look pass to teammate Jason Berlin, not pictured, as Menwith Hill's Shaun Brooks defends. Sigonella beat the Mustangs 38-19 in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Javaughn Harrison of Brussels aims for the basket as Incirlik's Ryan Packard defends in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Brussels beat Incirlik 34-29.

Javaughn Harrison of Brussels aims for the basket as Incirlik's Ryan Packard defends in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Brussels beat Incirlik 34-29. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Incirlik's Jonathan Catchings drives past Merab Chitanava of Brussels in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Brussels beat Incirlik 34-29.

Incirlik's Jonathan Catchings drives past Merab Chitanava of Brussels in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Brussels beat Incirlik 34-29. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

A multitude of Menwith Hill and Ankara players try to pull down a rebound in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. From left are Isabel Burns, Denise Culbreath, Diane Kim and Ramie Ogea, while Ankara's Nani Khumalo watches at far left. The Mustangs defeated Ankara 24-5.

A multitude of Menwith Hill and Ankara players try to pull down a rebound in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. From left are Isabel Burns, Denise Culbreath, Diane Kim and Ramie Ogea, while Ankara's Nani Khumalo watches at far left. The Mustangs defeated Ankara 24-5. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Incirlik's Brooke Willis attempts to get off a shot against the Lajes defense of Katie Czymbor, behind at left, and Enneleise Hirak, right, in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Incirlik won 31-10.

Incirlik's Brooke Willis attempts to get off a shot against the Lajes defense of Katie Czymbor, behind at left, and Enneleise Hirak, right, in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Incirlik won 31-10. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Menwith Hill's Ramie Ogea shoots as Ankara's Diane Kim tries to defend in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. The Mustangs beat Ankara 24-5.

Menwith Hill's Ramie Ogea shoots as Ankara's Diane Kim tries to defend in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. The Mustangs beat Ankara 24-5. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Ankara's John Do shoots over Sigonella's Nathan Freeman in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. The Jaguars beat Ankara 52-20.

Ankara's John Do shoots over Sigonella's Nathan Freeman in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. The Jaguars beat Ankara 52-20. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Marlon Hawkins of Lajes takes a shot against Javaughn Harrison of Brussels in evening Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. At left is Matt Broulx, at right Merab Chitanava. Brussels won 54-21.

Marlon Hawkins of Lajes takes a shot against Javaughn Harrison of Brussels in evening Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. At left is Matt Broulx, at right Merab Chitanava. Brussels won 54-21. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Marcello Esposti of Lajes attempts one of his many 3-point shots against Merab Chitanva of Brussels in evening Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Brussels won 54-21.

Marcello Esposti of Lajes attempts one of his many 3-point shots against Merab Chitanva of Brussels in evening Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Brussels won 54-21. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Despite the defense of Lajes' Enneleise Hirak, center and Julia Czymbor, Brussels' Teodora Vasileva scores in evening Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014.

Despite the defense of Lajes' Enneleise Hirak, center and Julia Czymbor, Brussels' Teodora Vasileva scores in evening Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Sigonella's Katie Cauble drives the ball up the court on a fast break as Ankara's Nani Khumalo, left, and Liza Zolotarova, right, chase her in evening Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Sigonella won 26-12.

Sigonella's Katie Cauble drives the ball up the court on a fast break as Ankara's Nani Khumalo, left, and Liza Zolotarova, right, chase her in evening Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Sigonella won 26-12. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Alex Ciranni of Lajes aims for the basket after getting past Incirlik's Kortney Taylor in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Incirlik won 31-10.

Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes

Alex Ciranni of Lajes aims for the basket after getting past Incirlik's Kortney Taylor in Division III action at the DODDS-Europe basketball championships in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday Feb. 20, 2014. Incirlik won 31-10. Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

WIESBADEN, Germany – The Brussels and Sigonella boys and girls basketball teams – ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively - won all four of their Division III games Thursday at the DODDS European Basketball Championships, taking the first step towards a title run.

But despite those early victories, an appearance in Saturday's finals is far from secure, especially on the boys' side, where an upstart team from Incirlik stands ready to shake up the power balance.

Coming into the tourney, no one, with the exception of regional rival Ankara, knew what to expect of the Hodjas, the No. 3 seed. Because of Incirlik's remote distance to most DODDS Europe schools, the only DODDS team it played was Ankara, making it difficult to gauge their true ranking.

After two games Thursday, Incirlik showed it has the potential to sneak into Saturday's finals. The Hodjas played top-seeded Brussels to the final buzzer, narrowly losing 34-29, and later went on to crush Lajes, 49-18.

"A lot of quickness, yeah, they're tough to handle," said Brussels coach Chris Vahrenhorst. "We were lucky to get past them."

Incirlik coach Kevin Lehde said his team's defense rose to the occasion against Brussels but lacked the necessary offensive plays to get the win.

The Sigonella boys, meanwhile, breezed through Thursday's pool play with wins against Menwith Hill, 38-19, and Ankara, 52-20. After his team's dominating day, Jaguars' coach David Berlin was focused on one thing: The Jaguar's next game, which just might be against Incirlik, on Friday. "We've watched them a little bit," he said of the Hodjas. It will come down to "who's going to come to play," he said. "Hopefully, we will."

Sigonella and Brussels both clinched spots in Friday’s afternoon semifinals and will play the winners of Incirlik-Ankara and Lajes-Menwirh Hill after receiving byes from the morning play.

That’s the same case with the Sigonella and Brussels girls, who were equally as dominant. The closest margin among them was Sigonella versus Menwith Hill, with the Jaguars winning 26-12.

Most of the 12 games played Thursday were lopsided-scoring affairs, though some teams hung in to make it a game for the first half. Some highlights:

GirlsBrussels 36, Incirlik 12: Defending champion Brussels stormed out to a 23-6 halftime lead and never looked back, despite losing stalwart guard, Ali DeFazio, after the first quarter to a recurring hamstring injury.

But DeFazio, whose status for the rest of the tournament is tentative, helped the Brigands off to a fast start, scoring nine points in seven minutes of play.

Leading scorer for the game was Brussels senior guard Aleeza-Maria Vitale with 14 points. The Vasileva sisters, Ana-Marija and Teodora, had eight rebounds apiece.

"We wanted to get the ball inside today," said Brussels coach Tim Como. "Last year, we were an outside shooting team … but this year, we're a different club. We have bigger girls inside and we're trying to use those girls to our advantage."

Menwith Hill 24, Ankara 5 – After falling to Sigonella in its first game, the Mustangs, the No. 4 seed, had the upper hand against Ankara, seeded fifth.

Senior forward Jordan Wetmore led Menwith Hill's full court press, which all but shut down the Trojans' offense. Wetmore also scored eight points.

BoysBrussels 54, Lajes 21: Lajes, in what may be its last DODDS-Europe basketball tournament if the high school closes next year due to a military drawdown, didn't win either of its games.

But the Falcons had a memorable first half against Brussels, thanks mostly to Falcon junior point guard Marcello Esposti, who nailed five consecutive three-pointers to keep Lajes in the game, 24-15, going into halftime. Lajes couldn't hold that margin, however.

Menwith Hill 37, Ankara 20: The Mustangs, the No. 4 seed, fell short against Sigonella, 26-12, in their first game but found the net much more often against Ankara, the fifth seed.

"We were able to apply pressure to their guards," said Menwith Hill coach Greg DeJardin. "We were a little quicker than they were and we shot better" than in the Sigonella game.

For the Mustangs, junior guard Chuckie Reuss had six steals, six rebounds; sophomore point guard Shaun Brooks had 14 points; and junior post player Jonathon Brugman grabbed eight rebounds.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

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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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