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BAMBERG, Germany — It took two games Sunday, but the Heidelberg Generals avenged last year’s two-point loss to Ramstein in the title game by defeating the Rams 80-69 and winning the 2005 U.S. Forces Europe basketball championship.

The three-time Army-Europe champions closed the season with a sweep of both postseason titles available to military community teams in Europe.

“It’s about time,” said smiling Heidelberg captain Craig Marcelin, who’s going back to the States this year. “We were up by 20 points and as captain I can’t let us lose a game like that.”

Marcelin, an all-Armed Forces player, and Ramstein’s Austin Layton each scored 25 points in the first game. Layton had 27 in the second game and Marcelin added 20, including a three-pointer with 2:01 to play that stopped Ramstein’s momentum after the Rams had cut a 21-point deficit to four with 3:31 remaining.

“Basketball is all about spurts,” said Heidelberg power forward Kenyatta Mack, who scored 10 points in the first game and 14 in the clincher.

“You’ve got to avoid a meltdown, take their run, then take a run at them. ‘Cap’ (Marcelin) told us at halftime to let the game come to us. Get control of the boards and let out shooters bomb them from outside.”

It worked just as planned. Heidelberg’s inside presence of Mack, 6-foot-9 Rodney Bailey, just back after missing most of the season with a leg injury, and Danny Jones battled underneath as Marcelin and point guards Andre Barnes and Al Elliott combined to sink 10 threes in 13 tries.

“We finally found a way to make shots,” said Barnes, who like Marcelin played his last game for the Generals on Sunday. Barnes was 2-for-4 from behind the arc on Sunday.

Elliott, who joined the team in midseason and scored 13 points in the title game, also was pleased to see the long ball drop.

“I didn’t shoot very well early in the tournament,” he said after going 3-for-5 from three-point territory on Sunday, “but Coach (Bobby Seaberry) told me to keep shooting.”

Elliott said Ramstein’s lack of an experienced point guard hurt the Rams on both ends of the floor.

“It wasn’t hard to get a good look,” he said. “They were pretty easy to beat off the dribble.”

Ramstein’s second-game rally was hampered by an ankle injury to Layton, who missed many of the final minutes of the game.

For Heidelberg, the problem in both games was keeping the intensity up after establishing double-digit halftime leads — 42-29 in Game 1 and 52-35 in Game 2.

“It’s harder to stay focused when you have a big lead,” said Mack, who is planning to return to the Generals next season and scored four points and pulled down two rebounds in Heidelberg’s 16-1 run over the first five minutes of Game 1. Game 2 began more closely, but Heidelberg pulled away with a 30-11 run over the last 8:28 of the first half and held on the rest of the way.

“It’s a great way to go out,” Barnes said.


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