Landstuhl tops Wiesbaden for unit-level hoops crown
Stars and Stripes March 16, 2009
MANNHEIM, Germany — Revenge for the team from Headquarters, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, came almost as quickly as your local ambulance Sunday as medics downed Headquarters, U.S. Army Health Center Wiesbaden, 46-41 to win the Army-Europe unit-level basketball championship.
“That was our first loss of the season,” tournament MVP Damon Rush of Landstuhl said about Sunday’s 58-56 first game loss to the Wiesbaden clinicians that forced the winner-take-all finale. “They’re a good team.”
Both games were decided at the free-thrown line. Wiesbaden led by as many as 15 points in the opener, but was forced to hold on as the Landstuhlers cut the gap to as few as four in the late going.
Wiesbaden, which went 16-for-21 from the line for the game, went 10-for-13 in the final 10 minutes. Better still, they were 4-for-4 from the line in the final 30 seconds to ice the game.
Landstuhl’s five fell behind in the second game, too, but never by more than seven. They took the lead for good with 3:59 to go when Johnny Allen, fouled behind the three-point arc with his team trailing 38-36, hit all three charity tries.
“I just try to take my time,” Allen said of his clutch conversions. “I was tired, but I thought we could win.”
The eventual champions’ near-rally from a 50-35 hole with 4:18 to play in the opener might have reinforced that view. That and the team’s history.
“We’ve been a second-half team all year,” Allen said. “For some reason, we always start slow.”
What Allen started at the line, Cameron Hopper finished. Hopper converted two one-and-one opportunities in the final minute to put the game away.
“We just had to buckle down and play defense,” said Hopper. “The last two minutes, we played great defense.”
Maybe even better than that. The runners-up, who played six games on Saturday as opposed to the two the champions played, managed just one point in the game’s final 2:37.
Even so, “It was a long road,” Rush said.
Tournament scoreboardUSAHC Wiesbaden 58, LRMC 56 (First championship game)Halftime— U.S. Army Health Center Wiesbaden 27, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center 19.Scoring—USAHC Wiesbaden: Marques Berry 22, Rico Malloy 13, Dee Boone 10, Chris Everett 10, Chris Kellog 3; Landstuhl Regional Medical Center: Damon Rush 15, Johnny Allen 13, Cameron Hopper 12, Kevin Jamison 6, Kenneth Stewart 5, Phillip Talley 5
LRMC 46, USAHC Wiesbaden 41(If-necessary game)Halftime—LRMC 22, USAHC Wiesbaden 20Scoring—LRMC: Stewart 12, Hopper 11, Allen 9, Talley 6, Rush 4, Jamison 2, Morris Porter 2; USAHC Wiesbaden: Everett 13, Berry 10, Malloy 9, Boone 7, Kellog 2