KANDERN, Germany – The Vilseck Falcons tuned up for this week’s European Division I tournament by claiming two tight road victories at Black Forest Academy, 43-40 on Friday and 51-50 on Saturday.“My hat goes off to Vilseck,” BFA coach Vince Purpero wrote in a Sunday E-mail. “They never gave up and have great kids and great coaches.”Purpero should know what he’s talking about. Not giving up is a trademark of BFA teams, and his present one was coming off a 59-57 overtime victory over fellow D-II power Bamberg the previous Saturday.This time, however, the last-second scales tipped the other way.“The first night, we lost by three, 40-43,” Purpero wrote. “The biggest difference was that we shot 13-of-35 in the paint for 37 percent, and Vilseck made 14-of-25 for 56 percent. They finished shots, and we didn't. We had the ball with nine seconds left to go for the tie, but miscommunicated and didn't even get the shot off for a 3-pointer.“The second game,” Purpero continued, “we statistically won everything except the points and free throws. As a coach, you ask yourself, ‘How did we lose this game?’“The stats do show a theme. We were winning by 12 points in the third quarter and beginning to control the tempo, score and game and had an opportunity to really open up the score. We had only committed five turnovers at this point and then we started to beat ourselves. We made eight turnovers, mostly on bad passes or bad decisions, and we went down the court four times in a row and settled for the first shot and missed. Vilseck came back and capitalized.“In the fourth quarter, we really had had the momentum going our way. Then we had a really significant injury (to) one of our players (Andrew Lindberg) on an alley-oop to the basket with about five minutes to play. …We were up by 10 points and shooting free throws and we missed them both. Our depth of players was in jeopardy, with Lindberg out and one of our guards, Aaron Ling, fouling out and our first-string center, Nate Greathouse, out with an ankle injury from Bamberg the week before. “We had kept Vilseck off the boards the entire game, with only seven offensive rebounds for them in three quarters. Then they erupted on us for six offensive rebounds and four 3-point plays with us fouling them. “Again, to Vilseck's credit, they never gave up. They went up by five with about a minute to play, but my boys didn't give up, either. We came down the court and hit a two-pointer and cut it to three points and then a few seconds later they had a traveling call. With 30 seconds to play, I called time out. We were going for the 3-pointer to tie it, and if we were closed off, then we would take the two-point shot and foul if we made or missed it. Josiah Kelley went to the basket and was double-teamed and was able to get the ball to Anthony Purpero who was being smothered in the corner… (He) somehow got the shot off and made it and was actually fouled but not called. It was in front of our bench and you could hear and see the foul. We were tied 50-50.“With seven seconds on the clock, they went down the court, and Daniel Arroyo, a great kid, took the ball to the hoop and should have been called for an offensive charge with his head down and our post waiting for him, but went to the line and missed the first and made the second and the time expired with Vilseck winning 51-50. It was great game. They shot 16-for-26 in free throws and we shot seven-for-14.“Basically, the team that can consistently do the fundamentals throughout the game will win,” Purpero concluded. “We played fundamentally sound ball for most of the game, but our breakdowns in the third and fourth quarters were the difference...”Vilseck’s two crunch-time victories will allow the Falcons to take a 3-11 mark into this week’s European D-I tourney at Mannheim. BFA is 4-9 going into this week’s European D-II event in Mannheim. Things were less frantic in the girls’ games. Vilseck won its fifth straight, 47-41 on Friday, behind Jamila Harvey’s game-high double-double – 23 points and 12 rebounds.Deraj’ McClinton’s five assists and five steals and Thea Dunn’s nine points and nine rebounds also paved the way for Vilseck in a game which turned on a 13-5 third-quarter run by the Lady Falcons.Esther Shady led BFA with 12 points and nine rebounds.Saturday, BFA turned the tables, 31-27, behind 14 rebounds from Shady and 13 points and nine rebounds by Kat Zvara.Harvey pulled down 13 rebounds for Vilseck, which endured a miserable six-point second-half in the face of the BFA defense. McClinton led Vilseck’s scoring chart with 13, but the Lady Falcons fell to a 10-0 last-quarter run by BFA.Vilseck is 7-7 going into Europeans; BFA is 7-6.

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