Getting a chance to play with the big boys
February 24, 2011
MANNHEIM, Germany — Quick feet, busy hands and long legs made the difference Thursday as eighth-seeded Lajes rebounded from an early-morning loss on the opening day of the DODDS-Europe Division III basketball tournament with a 49-34 victory over No. 5 Ankara.
Lajes has just three players on its 10-man roster shorter than 6-1.
“What’s [odd] about this team is that those 10 represent about half the boys in our entire school,” Lajes coach Carter Hoff said after his team rode aggressive defense to a 27-14 halftime edge, most of it built on fast-break baskets off steals and turnovers and put-back buckets. “To have that kind of height in such a small school is amazing.”
The Falcons throttled back a bit in the second half, but weren’t challenged in this match-up of two of the school system’s most isolated schools.
Ironically, it was a sub-6-footer, DeMarkus Hodge, who topped the Lajes score sheet with 17 points. Six-foot-2-inch Toderick Stevens tallied 16 as the Falcons rebounded from their opening game loss, 46-20, to top-seeded Rota.
“We love this opportunity,” said Hoff, whose team played just two games against local Portuguese clubs and others against base teams who are older and bigger than the Falscons. “This is the only chance we get all year to play teams our own size.”
Estonian senior forward Karl-Hans Orav led Ankara with eight points; his senior teammate Pablo Marin, a Spaniard, added seven.
Ankara, which fell 36-15 to Brussels in its opener, was unable to exploit its edge in fouls. Although the Trojans were in the bonus most of the game, they were just 6-of-20 from the free-throw line.
In another D-III game of note, defending champ Rota thumped Brussels, 53-18, behind 32 points from 6-5 All-Europe guard Tre’von Owens.
“Owens sure can shoot, can’t he?” Rota coach Benjamin Anderson asked rhetorically after Owens canned four treys in a game the Admirals led 27-13 at halftime.
Owens took over most authoritatively in the third period, scoring 15 points and sinking half of his treys.
“He could take every shot,” Anderson said, “and they’d all be good ones.”
Owens refrains from that, however, distributing the ball to teammates who have a better look at the basket.
Although Rota is 8-0 this season against DODDS-Europe competition, Anderson’s taking nothing for granted. “In a tournament,” he said, “anyone can beat anyone. We’re just trying to get better every game.”
There’ll be no three-peat for Aviano this year. The two-time defending D-II champs lost to Bitburg, 50-41, Thursday in its first single-elimination game of the tourney. Bitburg advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals against Mannheim, which sent Bahrain packing, 51-23.
Others who made the quarterfinals in Thursday’s early going were fourth-seeded Bamberg, which dispatched Milan, 71-19, and AFNORTH, which ousted Baumholder, 67-60. Bamberg and AFNORTH will play for a semifinal berth at 11:45 a.m. Friday at Coleman Barracks.
The D-II semifinals are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Sports Arena and Sullivan Barracks.
In Thursday’s boys play, second-seeded Kaiserslautern hammered Vilseck 72-36, two-time defending champion Ramstein downed International School of Brussels 69-57 and top-seeded Heidelberg hammered No. 8 Lakenheath 73-21.
Thursday’s key matchups were scheduled for later in the day, when Heidelberg was to play No. 4 Patch and Kaiserslautern was to take on No. 3 Ramstein. In each game, the teams were playing for third time this season and each has beaten the other once. Look for those rubber games to sort out who plays whom in Friday’s 8:30 p.m. semifinals.