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D-III boys final

Jaguars top Ansbach to sweep small-school contests

By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 25, 2017

WIESBADEN, Germany – The Sigonella Jaguars defeated the Ansbach Cougars 32-31 Saturday, winning the 2016-17 DODEA-Europe Division III boys basketball championship and completing a small-school title sweep that included earlier championships in girls basketball.

One perfectly executed play won the title for the Jaguars. Sigonella’s Aaron Jacobs took possession on the wing with his team trailing by a point and just 10 seconds to play. The senior guard drove baseline, drew the Cougar defense and slipped a spot-on pass to teammate Alex Ogletree, who calmly knocked down a midrange jumper that would hold up as the game-winner when Ansbach’s last-second attempt failed to connect.

While Ogletree’s winner was the game’s shining moment, the shooter himself preferred to focus on the overall team efforts that put the Jaguars in position to win with that late bucket.

“I think it was a great team win,” Ogletree said. “Without everybody else’s effort we wouldn’t have won that game.”

Jacobs, who only recently returned to Sigonella after a stint stateside, has espoused a similar philosophy over the last few weeks as he’s worked his way into a leadership role on the team. Sigonella coach Matt McKown went so far as to say Jacobs’ timely return “saved our season.”

Jacobs’ persistent advice, the guard said, is to “make the right play,” and the sight of Ogletree open on the season’s most crucial possession afforded Jacobs the chance to demonstrate it himself.

“I saw my buddy, my best friend, and I was like, ‘That’s the team play,’” Jacobs said.

While Ogletree and Jacobs stressed the accomplishments of the collective, it’s hard to overlook the pair’s contributions. The two combined for all eight of the Jaguars’ fourth-quarter points, including a three-pointer by Jacobs in the final minute that slashed a two-possession Ansbach lead to a single point and served as prologue to the Jaguars’ fateful final possession.

That wasn’t the only time Ansbach let a reasonably comfortable cushion slip away. The Cougars went into halftime up by seven points, taking advantage of a Jaguar team that Ogletree admitted was “kind of off.” But Sigonella rediscovered its competitive fire with a 13-0 third-quarter run. Once the teams were back on equal footing, the Jaguars locked in for the stretch run.

“We had to keep reminding them to be intense,” McKown said. “If they play fundamental basketball, they’re going to stay in it.”

Ogletree led all scorers with 12 points. Ogden Andrew scored 11 and Jox Baughman had 10 for the Cougars.

The loss is the second heartbreaking championship-game defeat in as many seasons for Ansbach, which lost to Brussels 41-38 last year in similarly dramatic fashion. The Cougars went undefeated in preliminary play, including a 38-35 defeat of Sigonella in Wednesday’s tournament opener.

Sigonella becomes the second school in the last four seasons to win both Division III basketball titles in the same season. Brussels claimed both crowns in 2014.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes

Ansbach's Nick Benson, right, Kevin Kamara and Sigonella's Isaac Griswold jump for a rebound during the DODEA-Europe Division III championship in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.
MICHAEL B. KELLER/STARS AND STRIPES

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