KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – All-Europe forward Bernard Burwell threw the knockout punch Tuesday night as the Kaiserslautern Red Raiders downed the Ramstein Royals 75-69.

“Not for a long time,” smiled Burwell, who ended with 37 points and 12 rebounds, when asked if he’d ever been in a groove like Tuesday’s before. Burwell scored 29 points in the first half alone as K-town turned a 22-17 first-quarter deficit into a 43-38 halftime lead en route to its first victory over Ramstein in more than three seasons. Thrown into the bargain was the Region II championship Ramstein had owned ever since regional play began in 2006-07.

“We knew it was Ramstein,” Burwell said of the impetus for his insane first half – 12-of-12 from the floor, including one-for-one from beyond the 3-point arc, and four-for-eight from the free-throw line. “We knew we had to establish the momentum and let them know we were coming.”

In Burwell’s case, “coming” meant incessantly taking the ball to the rim with an assortment of finesse and power moves which left him 13-of-16 from the floor for the game. Typical of the later was a jarring “and-one” bucket he made with 3:15 left. Cheerfully ignoring the bloody nose he suffered in a collision on the shot, he sank the ensuing free throw to put K-town up 71-63 and Ramstein in line for its third loss of the season.

Ramstein (10-3 overall, 7-2 in the region), hindered when All-Europe guard Thomas Amrine was forced to sit with foul trouble more than he would have liked in the first half, opened the third period with an 20-7 run over the half’s first seven minutes to go up 58-50. The run, which in the past would have proved decisive, was fueled by the shooting of Amrine, who finished with a team-high 22 points, and nine K-town turnovers in the third quarter alone.

Kaiserslautern (12-1, 9-0), however, was imperturbable, cutting its gap to 58-57 in the quarter’s final minute on two free throws and a trey by freshman Andrew Stern and a bucket by Brennan Dickerson.

“We don’t say anything negative,” Burwell explained about the way his team righted the ship. “We just correct mistakes on the floor. I knew deep down we were the better team.”

K-town coach Brant Tryon amplified on the basis for his team’s calm in the face of adversity.

“We really work hard,” he said, “on the mental part of the game.”

Another Stern three-ball and a baseline layup by an ailing Thomas Russ with 7:25 left in the game put K-town back on top at 63-61. A defense which held Ramstein to just eight points over the game’s final eight minutes and Burwell, who scored eight of his team’s final 12 points, made sure the Raiders stayed there.

The victory turned Friday’s return match at Ramstein into a bit of anticlimax, since there’s no regional title on the line anymore. There is, however, a chance for both teams to hone their skills in preparation for the big one – next week’s European Division I tournament at Mannheim.

“We never dwell on a win,” Tryon said. “We work on points that we can do better. We can do better on our free throws, we can do a better job of boxing out and we can do a better job of passing.”

It’s a message Burwell buys into wholeheartedly.

“We’ve got to get stronger,” he said.

Ramstein girls 51, Kaiserslautern 35: Tuesday at Ramstein, MacKenzie Crews’ 19 points and seven steals and Sarah Szybist’s double-double, 11 points and 10 rebounds, lifted the Lady Royals to the upset of their bitter neighborhood rivals.

According to Ramstein coach Nathan Brewster, his team’s 15-3 second-quarter run proved decisive in claiming its seventh straight victory. The Lady Royals, who began the season 0-3 and who got 13 points, nine rebounds and seven steals from Alexis Tremble on Tuesday, passed K-town for second place in the Region II. They are 8-5 overall and 7-2 in the region going into Friday’s rematch at K-town. Kaiserslautern, losing for the third straight time, fell to 10-3, 6-3.

Brewster cited his guards and his team’s rebounders, including Allison Shelton with eight, for the victory.

“Both …Crews and Kateri Goldammer had excellent guard play,” he wrote in a Tuesday-night E-mail. “…Crews also had an excellent shooting night along with her multiple defensive steals.”

Medina Gregory led K-town with nine points, and All-European Cariema Wood added eight.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now