OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Just keep the ball from Nicholas Welch.

That was coach Ed Brown’s instruction to his Kunsan Air Base Wolf Pack men’s basketball team midway through the second half of Friday’s second final game in the 23rd Osan Pacificwide Holiday Basketball Tournament.

The strategy worked. Guards Tyric Gaddy and Adrien Lomax took turns shadowing Andersen Air Force Base’s Air Force Academy veteran, and Lomax hit the go-ahead bucket with 2:30 left as Kunsan rallied from a 13-point deficit to win its first title in this tournament.

“Deny him the ball. Baseline to baseline. That was the key,” said Brown, who said he was worried when the Bombers seized a 55-42 lead on Phillip Coleman’s driving bucket with 15:20 left. “I had a headache. I was looking around for the Motrin and Tylenol.”

Andersen forced the deciding game of the double-elimination tournament by winning the first final game decisively 65-42.

In the women’s final, host Osan left nothing to chance, routing Yongsan Garrison 60-34.

Men’s championship

Kunsan Air Base 42-76, Andersen Air Force Base 65-74: Welch had torched the Wolf Pack for 26 points when Brown opted to use Gaddy and Lomax in a box-and-one defense with 15 minutes left. Welch, the tournament’s MVP, was held to four points the rest of the way.

“I knew as long as the players came together and did what I told them, we’d be all right,” Brown said. “What we needed was that spark — deny him the ball, and it paid off.”

Coleman’s basket capped a 13-3 run that seemingly left Kunsan on the ropes. But led by Larry Boyd, who had 14 of his 17 points in the second half, Kunsan chipped away and took command in the final two minutes.

Boyd’s free throw with 18.8 seconds left capped the scoring. Andersen’s Maurice Wong missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer to win it.

“They had a little more left in the tank than we did,” said coach Gerry Barnes, whose Bombers played three games Friday to Kunsan’s two. “I commend Kunsan. They sucked it up. They wanted it more than we did. I have no complaints. We just got tired, and they capitalized.”

In the first final game, Andersen outscored Kunsan 35-11 over a 17:15 span to rally from an 18-16 first-half deficit. Julian Phillips had 18 points for Andersen. Boyd led Kunsan, hounded by foul trouble, with 13.

Women’s championship

Osan Air Base 60, Yongsan Garrison 34: Led by their All-Air Force trio of LaQuana Ayers (twice), tournament MVP Richere Harrison (once) and Mariela Miles (two-time All-Armed Forces), the host Defenders, taking advantage of 24 turnovers, gradually built a lead of 27 points down the stretch.

Miles had 17 points and Ayers 13 as Osan won despite not having point guard Tiki McGahee, who missed game time due to work. But as guard-laden as Osan is, it didn’t matter, coach Jonathan Jenkins said.

“I have about six guards, any one of whom can handle” point-guard duty, Jenkins said. “Everybody stepped up. When you win like we have, every game has been like that. The bench grows our leads. We’d have a 20-point lead when the subs come in, and it would grow to 30 or 40.”

Qoay Dubose led Yongsan with 13 points.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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