DODEA-Europe boys basketball - Day 1
Half of semifinal spots clinched on first day of action
By AARON KNOWLES AND GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 20, 2019
WIESBADEN, Germany - It didn’t take long for half the field to separate itself on the opening day of the DODEA-Europe boys basketball championships.
Unbeaten Ramstein and Stuttgart each won twice to earn spots in Friday’s semifinals in Division I play. Black Forest Academy and Bahrain needed only a win apiece to book their spots in the final four for Division II. And Ansbach and Brussels advanced with a pair of triumphs apiece in Division III.
Pool play continues Thursday in gyms across Wiesbaden, as six more teams will fill out the field for the right to play in Saturday’s championship games.
Stuttgart wins twice: The Panthers upended the No. 5 seed from Naples, 45-29, during their first game of the day.
Sabriel Ashley pushed his team to a win by scoring 15 points.
In their second game, the Panthers took on Lakenheath and came out victorious with a score of 41–32.
Although Stuttgart struggled with accuracy for much of the game, Lakenheath was not able to defend when needed. The Lancers began to close the gap and ended the third quarter at 26-24, but Stuttgart pulled away from there.
Ramstein stays perfect: The top-seeded Royals continued their unbeaten season with a pair of easy victories.
Ramstein eliminated Naples from advancing with a thorough 72-32 triumph after opening with a 49-37 win over Lakenheath.
Against Lakenheath, Ramstein’s Naser Eaves and Jason Jones Jr. scored 13 and 12 points in the first three quarters.
Ramstein coach Andrew O’Connor was pleased with the team’s efforts.
“We had a rough start, but it’s the first day of the tournament, that usually happens,” O’Connor said. “We try not to read into the first game. You win by 40 or you win by one, a win is still a win.”
Because of their undefeated status, everyone is gunning for the Royals and the No. 1 spot, O’Connor said. As they prepared for the tournament, they concentrated on camaraderie, protecting the ‘paint’ and scoring in it.
O’Connor said his team’s greatest advantage is the experience of his players who have been through this tournament before.
“You can’t teach experience,” O’Connor said. “You have to go through that and we are lucky to have it.”
Kaiserslautern 52, Vilseck 51: The most exciting game of the day had to have been the Raiders against the Falcons.
Kaiserslautern’s Isaak Pacheco sent the game into overtime in the final seconds by nailing a three-point shot with his team down 47-44.
Vilseck had a chance to convert in the final seconds of the extra four minutes but couldn’t convert.
“I feel good,” Pacheco said. “Our coach set up the right play, got us the right inbound passer and all that was left was my shot and I just made it. We had a bit of a slow start, but we knew that we could come back and just chip away at them. We just focused on shutting down their high posts.”
The Raiders and Wiesbaden enter Thursday’s play with 2-0 records in the five-team pool and each need just a win to advance. Vilseck needs a pair of wins and some help.
Bahrain 46, American Overseas School of Rome 27: A well-traveled Bahrain squad pulled away late to win the crucial four-five matchup over fourth seed AOSR.
Bahrain, DODEA-Europe’s only team based outside of Europe, endured its typically rigorous travel schedule to complete its annual visit to Germany. But the team found a way to decompress before starting its postseason schedule.
“We walked around Germany yesterday. It’s pretty nice,” senior guard Derek Westendorff said. “We just hung out as a team, rested. That’s what we do.”
Bahrain was equally at ease on the court Wednesday, outscoring a shorthanded AOSR team 17-3 in the fourth quarter to cruise to the win and clinch a semifinal berth.
Top-seeded Black Forest Academy beat AOSR late Wednesday to claim the three-team pool’s other spot in the elimination round.
Top seeds survive: Three games in Pool B produced three different winners Wednesday, though the top seeds were able to avoid a costly upset.
Second-seeded Rota shook off a challenge from seventh-seeded Marymount to take a 44-42 victory in an early-morning matchup, while third-seeded Aviano claimed a 36-27 win over sixth-seeded AFNORTH. Marymount stayed in the mix for a semifinal berth with a late 29-26 defeat of AFNORTH.
The situation is likely to be resolved early Thursday as Marymount faces Aviano and AFNORTH takes on Rota. Aviano and Rota meet Thursday afternoon to settle any remaining preliminary business.
Brussels 42, Hohenfels 38: A heroic effort by newcomer Jalen Pollard sparked the fifth-seeded Brigands to an opening victory.
Pollard, a junior who’s been in Brussels for all of five months, scored 27 points despite what he considered a frustrating shooting effort.
“My shot wasn’t falling so much today but I worked myself to the line and got what I could,” Pollard said. “I’ve got to attack to be able to get buckets.”
The Brigands clinched a semifinal berth later Wednesday with a 46-7 defeat of Ankara.
The top-seeded Ansbach Cougars beat Hohenfels 59-19 and Ankara 44-4 on Wednesday to join Brussels in Friday’s elimination round, making Thursday’s Brigand-Cougar showdown meaningful only in terms of arranging semifinal matchups.
Baumholder, Spangdahlem seize control: The defending champion Baumholder Bucs and third-seeded Spangdahlem Sentinels posted blowout wins Wednesday. No. 2 seed Baumholder routed Alconbury 59-19, while the Sentinels crushed Sigonella 66-27.
Both teams will tip off twice on Thursday after playing just once Wednesday, including an afternoon face-to-face meeting. Both can lower the stakes of that game if they win earlier Thursday.