Interservice basketball: Bomb Squad, Mystics cruise to MLK titles
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Sharpshooting three-point specialists had a field day Monday in the 16th Martin Luther King Invitational Basketball Tournament as Okinawa’s Bomb Squad won its second straight men’s title and Mystics their second women’s crown in three years.
MVP Billy Shanks hit five three-pointers, went 6-for-7 at the foul line and finished with 35 points in Bomb Squad’s 84-77 victory over Team of Champions.
Brittany Newsom and MVP Charmaine Walker each scored 21 points, with Newsom hitting five threes as the Mystics routed Korea’s Camp Casey/Area I 80-36.
Korea post-level teams held their own MLK tourney at Camp Humphreys, with Osan Air Base’s men and women seizing titles.
Bomb Squad survived a see-saw affair that saw nine ties and eight lead changes. Shun Haskins’ steal and breakaway layup with 5:20 left put Bomb Squad ahead for good.
Shanks, a two-time All-Armed Forces guard, said his teammate, four-time Armed Forces center Jelani Nix, "told me to do what I do best, get everybody else open, shoot the ball, play like I know how and take my time. Get the ball down low, they kick it back to me, wide open, so I had to take the shots they were giving me."
It was Shanks’ last MLK tournament; he’s due to leave the island soon.
"Glad to go out a winner," he said.
Newsom said she’d never shot three-pointers back in high school at Renovo, Pa., and only took up the art as a freshman at Penn College of Technology. Two to three hours of practice a day, she says, helped her refine the art.
"She’s about a 95-percent three-point shooter. I can depend on her at any point in time during the game," Mystics coach George Griffin said, crediting his defense for the title triumph. "We practice defense because that’s what wins us the ballgames," he said.
Unlike the men’s final, the Mystics left nothing to chance, opening the second half with two three-poiners and steadily pulling away.
Osan’s women won the Korea MLK title with ease 56-29, behind its All-Air Force triad of Richere Harrison, Mariela Miles and tournament MVP LaQuana Ayers.
But it was their final opponent, Seoul American High School, that was the story of the tournament, marking the first time a DODEA school has reached the final of a Korea post-level tournament.
"We came here with everything to lose and so much to gain," Falcons junior forward Destinee Harrison said. "It’s a good learning experience for us."
William Dicks earned MVP honors for the Osan men, who survived a 77-76 double-overtime clash with Yongsan Garrison.
Gary Cashman contributed to this report.