Bucs, Cougars get set for another battle
WIESBADEN, Germany – The rematch is on, in more ways than one. The Baumholder Bucs will face the Ansbach Cougars on Saturday in a DODEA-Europe Division III championship game that is a rematch of two of the more significant games over the past year: Baumholder’s win over Ansbach in last year’s European title game, and Ansbach’s upset of Baumholder in this year’s regular season.
Baumholder advanced Friday at Clay Kaserne Fitness Center with a 73-58 semifinal victory over a tough Hohenfels squad. Ansbach later clinched its spot in the final with a 42-39 comeback win over Spangdahlem.
Baumholder 73, Hohenfels 58: The Tigers kept coming at the reigning champs. But the Bucs had every answer.
Baumholder star Chandler Pigge scored 31 points and Hohenfels counterpart Deshawn Herold-Adams scored 22 in a compelling one-on-one duel at the center of a consistently competitive game.
The Tigers kept pace in the opening minutes on the strength of darting drives to the hoop by Herold-Adams and Robin Kim but were soon overcome by the Bucs and Pigge, the reigning Stars and Stripes boys basketball Athlete of the Year. The junior star scored on a drive, swished a pull-up three-pointer and converted another transition layup in quick succession to put his team up 23-10 with about two minutes to play in the first quarter.
Hohenfels was persistent until the end but couldn’t stay closer than a deficit in the low double digits. Herold-Adams scored 13 of his points after halftime, remaining productive even after the Bucs slotted the 6-foot-4 Pigge as the primary defender on the 5-foot-10 Tiger guard.
The Bucs, having enjoyed their championship breakthrough a year ago, are now playing the role of the hunted rather than the hunters. Baumholder coach Dewayne Pigge said his team will rely on “great defensive intensity” on Saturday in hopes of fighting off one more challenge from a hungry small-school field.
“Each year it seems to get tougher,” the coach said. “It’s a grind.” Laurence Huxtable joined Bucs teammate Pigge in double digits with 15 points. Caleb Love added 15 points for Hohenfels.
Ansbach 42, Spangdahlem 39: Cougar guard Shane Nesbitt scored four points in the final 20 seconds to snatch victory away from the Sentinels.
Nesbitt raced downcourt with his team trailing by a single point and its hopes of another title shot ticking quickly away. But the speedy Cougar star was quicker, sprinting to the rim past a backpedaling Sentinel defense and laying in the go-ahead basket.
“He was guarding me too close and the middle was open,” Nesbitt said of his Spangdahlem defender.
Moments later, Nesbitt rebounded a Spangdahlem miss in the paint, drew a foul and deposited both free throws to produce the final score. Cougar teammate Alexander Adams cleanly blocked Spangdahlem’s attempt at a tying three-pointer at the buzzer to preserve the win.
Nesbitt’s opportunistic scoring burst and Adams’ late swat made for a perfect end to a game in which conventional offense was at a premium for both sides. Nesbitt said the Cougars leaned on defense for support when their offense eluded them.
“We just played defense, and the defense helped us on offense,” Nesbitt said. “We didn’t get the looks we wanted today but we played through it.”
Ansbach’s late surge was aided by Spangdahlem’s unfortunately timed struggles at the free-throw line, which Sentinels coach Nate Goolsby attributed to “nervousness” from a young team with just one senior and one junior on the roster. The Sentinels scored just two points in the fourth quarter as they squandered a six-point lead over the final eight minutes.
Adams led the Cougars with 12 points, while Nesbitt scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. Deon Montgomery, the Sentinels’ lone senior, scored a game-high 16 points in defeat.