Ramstein sweeps Vilseck to open season
December 4, 2015
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The 2015-16 DODDS-Europe basketball season opened Friday night the way the Ramstein Royals hope it will end in February - with consecutive Royal wins.
The defending Division I champion Ramstein boys team put away the visiting Vilseck Falcons 51-33. The girls, returning significant talent from last year's European runner-up roster, routed the Falcons 53-16 to open the sweep.
Vilseck will stick around to play the Royals again early Saturday.
BoysRamstein 51, Vilseck 33: The revamped Royals opened their title defense with a convincing win over a Falcon team with designs on their European crown.
Vilseck was active but largely unproductive early, scoring just six points in the first quarter and taking an eight-point deficit into halftime. Another offensive lull after the break doomed the Falcons' hopes of a season-opening win.
Mitchell McKinney, Ramstein's lone returning starter, led all scorers with nine points and paced the Royals with five rebounds. Nick Bautista added eight points, Sid Boggs and Malik Cannon had seven apiece and T.J. Williams chipped in six in the victory.
"We all feel pretty good. We had the crowd on our side," Williams said. "We came out here and did what we were supposed to do."
While the nominal defending champions, Ramstein in practice is a developing squad comprised mostly of junior varsity call-ups and veterans like Williams transitioning into larger roles.
Ramstein coach Andrew O'Connor called Friday's early returns "encouraging."
"I thought we played with great energy. The team was into it," O'Connor said. "Overall it was a really good game."
Jaleel Edwards and Andrew Pinckney had seven points apiece to lead the Falcons, while teammate Zavier Scott grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
GirlsRamstein 53, Vilseck 16: The Royals return four well-entrenched starters from a team that fell just short of a European championship. As it turns out, that fifth spot in the starting lineup won't be an issue either.
Newly-arrived senior Bella Rodriguez proved an ideal fit on the wing for the Royals, bringing a polished all-around game to the starting five's only vacancy while effortlessly handling the pressure applied to a new presence in an established group.
"I know what I'm doing," Rodriguez said.
That same self-assurance permeated the Royal roster as it coolly dispatched its overmatched Division I rival. Ramstein's crisp offense created open shots with ease while the defense held the Falcons to just three first-half points.
"One of the things we're going to pride ourselves on is defense," Ramstein coach Nathan Brewster said. "I want to always make other teams uncomfortable. We did that really well tonight."
Rodriguez finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and six steals. Lindsey Breton had an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double, while guard Desiree Palacios cracked double digits with 10 points.