Hohenfels guards shoot way to D-II victory
Stars and Stripes February 26, 2011
MANNHEIM, Germany — It didn’t look like it for most of European Division II boys basketball championship game, but everything was clicking for the Hohenfels Tigers.
The Tigers, second here to Aviano in 2010, took the big step to the top Saturday with a 51-37 victory over Region III rival Bamberg, despite having All-Europe senior guard Jamie Tompkins endure a 22-minute scoring drought and watching nothing fall for senior point guard J.J. Calhoun until the final eight minutes of the game.
All of that was fine with Hohenfels coach J.J. Calhoun Sr. His Tigers were winning this game in other ways.
“I told my son not to worry that his shot wasn’t falling,” the elder Calhoun said after watching him go 0-for-7 from the floor in the game’s first three periods. “I told him he’d start doing other things for us, getting rebounds and playing defense. I told him his job was to stick with No. 20 (Bamberg’s Quadel Webb).”
Calhoun took to his task well enough to hold Webb to 12 points. Webb sank just two of his seven tries from behind the arc, and the Tigers, who claimed their first European boys basketball crown in school history, allowed Bamberg just 5-of-14 from 3-point range.
That kind of perimeter defense was the key, coach Calhoun said.
“Our games against Mannheim (49-43 and 67-55 victories on Jan. 7-8) really prepared us for this game,” he said. “Like Bamberg, they rely on the 3-pointer. Our players got used to going out to defend the shooter. Every time Bamberg kicked the ball out today, we had a guy back.”
Bamberg might have profited for doing the same against Hohenfels scoring leader Damien Babington, who tallied 18 points. Babington, a junior guard, converted all six of his 3-point attempts, all in the first three periods of the game, to help Hohenfels to a 35-29 lead.
“They weren’t falling for me in warm-ups,” Babington said, “but I started hitting them during the game.”
With Tompkins and the younger Calhoun all but shut out during that span, Babington’s contribution was immense.
“We have the best guard rotation in Europe,” the elder Calhoun said of his trio of Babington, Calhoun and Tompkins. “When someone’s cold, the other always steps up.”
Babington said he knew Calhoun and Tompkins, who scored eight points in the first period, and was quiet thereafter, would come alive. They did.
Calhoun scored a bucket, converted a one-and-one opportunity, blocked a shot and pulled down two rebounds in the fourth quarter, and Tompkins added three rebounds, handed out an assist and added a field goal during the same span. Over the game’s final 2:40 Tompkins was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
The victory was the Tigers’ third straight over the Bamberg. They swept a home-and-home series, 53-42 and 53-44, on Feb. 18-19.
“It helped that we had played them before,” Babington said. “They had been talking all season about how they were going to win.”
The victory was sweet exit music for Calhoun.
“This is probably my last year coaching this team,” he said. “I wasn’t going to coach this year because I had so many commitments, but the team said if I’d coach them one more year, they’d win it.”
Saturday, the Tigers’ word became their bond.