Ramstein-Kaiserslautern matchup won't decide title this year
An elimination-game clash between archrivals Kaiserslautern and Ramstein is among the DODEA-Europe boys basketball semifinal matchups arranged via pool-play action in Wiesbaden and Ramstein on Thursday.
No. 2 Vilseck will take on No. 3 Black Forest in the other Division I semifinal, set for Friday at Clay Kaserne Fitness Center.
The Division III semifinal matchups were also finalized Thursday. Defending champion Baumholder will face Hohenfels while Ansbach takes on Spangdahlem.
The round-robin Division II bracket continues Friday. The teams with the best two records advance straight to Saturday’s European championship game.
Division IKaiserslautern 61, Black Forest 60, OT: Tre Dotson delivered his second game-winning shot in as many days to send the Raiders to the semifinals without a loss.
Dotson took an inbounds pass with nine seconds to play in overtime and his team trailing by a point and sped coast to coast, streaking into the lane, sidestepping BFA defenders and laying the decisive basket softly off the glass. The Falcons’ desperation heave from midcourt bounced off the glass, sending the Raiders into the elimination round as the division’s only unbeaten team.
“It was go time,” said Dotson, who also scored the game-winner in the Raiders’ redemptive 52-50 defeat of Wiesbaden on Wednesday. “I had to go for it.”
The skilled and athletic Dotson creates a chunk of Kaiserslautern’s offense via his forays into the paint, his objective often to draw the defense and kick to a shooter left open. Dotson had other plans with Thursday’s game-winner.
“I felt like this was my shot,” Dotson said. “I’m usually the one to get my teammates going, but if we need a bucket, I’m there.”
The win completed a 3-0 preliminary round for the fifth-seeded Raiders, the runner-up in each of the last two European tournaments. No. 3 Black Forest, a former Division II dynasty making its Division I debut this winter, fell to 1-2 and was left reliant on the outcome of the pool’s final game to determine its postseason fate.
Wiesbaden 54, Stuttgart 43: Black Forest got the result it needed as the Warriors beat the Panthers.
The Warrior win forced a three-way tie between Wiesbaden, Stuttgart and Black Forest. The Falcons claimed the tiebreaker based on their point differential in games between the three tied teams.
Ramstein 59, Lakenheath 23: The five-time defending champions earned their pool’s second seed with a rout of the seventh-seeded Lancers.
The tournament’s new structure placing the No.1 and No. 2 seeds in the same pool was designed to save the division’s premier matchup for Saturday’s final. But the format yielded a semifinal that is a rematch of the last two European title games, both of which saw Ramstein defeat Kaiserslautern.
Vilseck 41, SHAPE 25: As notable as the Raider-Royal semifinal might be, the second-seeded Falcons are making their own case as the team to beat in this tournament.
Vilseck continued its well-timed hot streak Thursday with a thorough defeat of the eighth-seeded Spartans. The Falcons beat Black Forest, their eventual semifinal opponent, twice in the final weekend of the regular season to clinch the second seed and avoid the more turbulent half of the bracket. On Wednesday, Vilseck seized control of its pool with a 44-38 defeat of top seed Ramstein.
Though the program hasn’t enjoyed much postseason success in recent seasons, senior Jonas Matthews said this year’s Falcons are different and elaborated on the many reasons why.
“We’re all well-rounded,” Matthews said. “We can all shoot, we can drive, we can score inside or outside, we’re fast, we’re tall.”
Scarier still, the Falcons may have room for further improvement.
“I think we can pick it up a little bit more,” Matthews said.
Division IINaples 52, AOSR 36: The Wildcats continued to perform well above their humble fifth seed, knocking off the top-seeded Falcons and later handling fourth seed Aviano 45-31.
That run came a day after Naples knocked off season-long nemesis Vicenza, starting postseason momentum that proceeded unabated through Thursday. All told, the Wildcats are 4-0 entering Friday’s final two round-robin games against Rota and Bahrain and have a clear path to Saturday’s championship game.
Barring a Naples collapse, the other finals berth will likely be decided by a pair of battles between the Wildcats’ conquests to date. Aviano faces both AOSR and Vicenza on Friday. Vicenza beat AOSR 57-42 on Thursday to hand the No. 1 seed its second loss of the day.
Division IIIAnsbach 41, Hohenfels 40: The second-seeded Cougars edged the third-seeded Tigers to claim the pool’s top seed.
But the disappointment didn’t last long for Hohenfels, which handled Brussels 66-55 later Thursday to secure its own spot in the elimination round.
Baumholder 42, Spangdahlem 34: The top-seeded defending champions handled the fourth-seeded Sentinels in a largely inconsequential pool-play finale. Both teams had already clinched their semifinal berths before Thursday’s tipoff.
Baumholder had no trouble with Hohenfels in its regular-season meeting, a 65-45 win on Jan. 31. Ansbach and Spangdahlem did not play each other this season.