‘Little’ teams Incirlik, Aviano claim USAFE hoop titles
Stars and Stripes March 9, 2008
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — It doesn’t take a lot of people to field a basketball team. But sometimes even large communities have trouble putting five players on the floor.
That was evident during the USAFE Basketball Championships, with two of the smaller bases in terms of population coming up with titles Saturday — one of them because the largest Air Force base in Europe didn’t have enough bodies on its women’s team.
Incirlik, with less than a quarter the population of Ramstein, won the women’s title 45-43, erasing an 11-point deficit when the Lady Rams were forced to play the final six minutes with only four players.
Aviano, the fifth-largest base in terms of active-duty population, had too much firepower for Spangdahlem in the men’s final and took its second straight title with a 78-72 victory.
Women's gameTourney MVP Jamila Hodges blocked a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer to preserve Incirlik’s comeback victory.
Ramstein, which fielded a five-player team the entire tournament, led 40-29 with 6:05 to play when center Brooke Bozarth (14 points, 13 rebounds) fouled out. Incirlik began chipping away at the lead, with Denice Cole’s three-pointer pulling the Nomads to 40-38 and Kasey Grindrod tying it with 2:50 to play, capping a 11-point run.
Ramstein regained the lead before Susan Hill’s three-pointer it again. Cole and Hill then connected on free throws in the final 30 seconds while shutting down Ramstein.
“I can’t ask any more of the ladies than they gave,” Ramstein coach Griffin Pegasis said. “To play five 40-minute games without any substitutions, how can you ask for more?”
Ramstein planned to take nine players to the tournament, but one was called to the States and three others were needed to perform Air Force duties elsewhere. Pegasis said the team would be looking to add players in the next few weeks before the Army-Air Force Final Four on April 17-20.
“We look forward to Ramstein having a full team, so there won’t be any excuses or other reasons if we play them again,” Incirlik coach Kevin Parker said. “I still think we would have won it. We have a team that does not give up.”
Hodges finished with 16 points and 19 rebounds to lead Incirlik. Jetta Weber had 13 points and Ieschia Ross 12 for Ramstein.
Men's gameAviano coach Ricky Lucas laughed while denying that the base recruits female airmen whose husbands play basketball. “It worked this time, though,” he acknowledged.
Spangdahlem couldn’t find an answer for James Taylor and A.J. Zollicoffer — civilians married to airmen on base — and never led after the opening minutes of the second half.
“We just couldn’t get ahead,” coach Benjamin Wynn said. “It’s hard to defend them. They’ve got a lot of outside shooters and we had to defend the inside.”
Or at least try to. Taylor dominated stretches of the game with an array of moves around the basket and finished with 21 points. Zollicoffer, a few inches taller at 6-foot-5, added 15 points and Kirk Shepherd, the third member of the front line, scored 10.
Forward Kristopher Davis helped rally the Sabres in the second half on the way to collecting 22 points and 11 rebounds, but couldn’t get Spangdahlem over the hump.
USAFE Basketball Tournament scoreboardAVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Final results of the 2008 USAFE Basketball Championships, which concluded Saturday.
Friday’s semifinalSpangdahlem 80, Ramstein 65
Saturday’s championshipAviano 78, Spangdahlem 72Aviano..........38 40—78Spangdahlem..........35 37—72Spangdahlem (72)—Kristopher Davis 22, Darnell Starkes 13, Robert Harris 9, Kenny Welch 8, Nathaniel Houston 7, Cory Stallworth 6, Alexander Hodges 3, Daniel Rich 2, Clarence Hunter 2.Aviano (78)—Aviano: James Taylor 21, A.J. Zollicoffer 15, Kirk Shepherd 10, John Rucker 7, Chris Moed 6, Treveal Simpkins 6, Derek Spencer 5, Jorge Valero 5, Kenyatta Prince 3.Rebounds—Spangdahlem 40 (Davis 11), Aviano 36 (Simpkins 9). Turnovers—Spangdahelm 18, Aviano 20. Fouled out—Harris, Welch, Zollicoffer.
Friday’s semifinalRamstein 58, Aviano 49
Saturday’s championshipIncirlik 45, Ramstein 43Incirlik..........19 26—45Ramstein..........22 21—43Incirlik (45)—Jamila Hodges 16, Susan Hill 9, Jessica Feliciano 8, Denica Cole 6, Kasey Grindrod 4, Rukiya Durden 2.Ramstein (43)—Brooke Bozarth 14, Jetta Weber 13, Ieschia Ross 12, Tanya Casey 2, Rebecca Harris 2.Rebounds—Incirlik 52 (Hodges 19), Ramstein 45 (Bozarth 13). Turnovers—Incirlik 14, Ramstein 22. Fouled out—Bozarth, Feliciano.
Kent Harris / S&S
At left, Incirlik’s Rukiya Durden puts up a shot while defended by Ramstein’s Brooke Bozarth during Saturday’s title game in the USAFE Basketball Championships. Incirlik won 45-43. At right, Aviano’s Chris Moed tries to drive past Spangdahlem’s Cory Stallworth during the men’s title game. Aviano won 78-72.